Monday, December 12, 2016

Blessed Are the Merciful

Coptic Fresco of Christ Pantocrator, Monastery of St. Anthony, Egypt
There has been another attack against Coptic Orthodox worshippers in Cairo, in the chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul adjoining the main cathedral and seat of the Coptic Orthodox patriarch, Tawadros II. Coptic Christians make up an estimated 10-13% of Muslim majority Egypt's population of 82 million souls and are the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

Although Coptic Christians are understandably angry about the failure of the government and security forces to adequately protect them from violent attacks and the ongoing discrimination they face, what is striking is that there have not been reprisals by Christians against their Muslim neighbors.  Not in 2011 when the cathedral in Alexandria was attacked, not in 2013 when Coptic churches and neighborhoods were burned by angry mobs after the coup that removed President Morsi from office and not in the aftermath of this deadly suicide bombing that killed 24 worshippers at the Divine Liturgy, mostly women and children.

In the face of such terrible provocation, these Egyptian Christians are adhering to the teaching of Jesus: to love your enemies, to do good to those who hate you, to imitate Christ's own example on the cross when he forgave his tormenters. They confess Jesus, including his non-violent love, even for enemies, during this terrible time of persecution and fear.

Let us pray for their perseverance in the way of Christ and his gospel.  Let us commend ourselves to the holy prayers of the clergy and faithful of this martyr Church, to intercede for us so that we might not be mastered by our own fears and anxieties in these uncertain and unsettled days in our own country.

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