Saturday, 16 August 2014

Persecution of Christians

There seems to be an increasing persecution of Christians around the world. I just learnt that it is also taking place in Hong Kong. 

Reminds me of this pretty old song by Mariah Carey. These words strike me particularly... 

"There's a light in me that shines brightly... There's an inner peace I own; something in my soul that they cannot possess... They can't take this precious love I'll always have inside me. Certainly, the Lord will guide me where I need to go."

This "light", "inner peace", this "precious love"... it is Jesus Himself. 
They can take away our symbols, our lives... but they cannot take away the truth of God and the values that the world's balance hangs upon. Certainly, they cannot take away our God in us. 

They can separate our heads from our bodies and drain out our blood that soaks the earth... but "Can anything cut us off from the love of Christ -- can hardships or distress, or persecution, or lack of food and clothing, or threats or violence; as scripture says: For your sake we are being massacred all day long, treated as sheep to be slaughtered? No; we come through all these things triumphantly victorious, by the power of him who loved us. For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39

Here's an excerpt from an article in this week's Catholic News: 

Catholics urged to 'hold firm' as religious symbols removed - 
"... the government has cracked down on Christianity in this city of more than 3 million people although the reason remains unknown... On Aug 3, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported local pastors saying that in the last seven months, at least three churches have been demolished and more than 160 crosses, including some at Catholic churches, were taken down because they exceeded the size allowed by the local government." 
~ Catholic News Singapore Vol 64 No. 17

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Grant Us Your Peace - Prayer - Iraq's Christian Genocide

Dear Jesus, 

I come with nothing much at all. No political power or army, no wealth or influence. Nothing but my pleas, my imperfect love and my helplessness. And that's nothing much at all. But do hear me as I pray. 

See, Your people suffering, dying for Your sake. Your heart is pierced through as You watch Your people massacred, beheaded. 

See, this brutality. These, who no longer feel their conscience. They are Your children too, no? Are you not angry with these murderers? Do you not want to send down fire to burn them all into ashes? Or order a plague upon them like You did to the Egyptians? 

Yet, have I come to know You enough to glimpse a little into Your Sacred Heart? Watching them in their evil deeds and still, You love them with everything You are and desire for their souls to be saved. Your heart is pierced through even more as You watch them disfigure themselves, disfigured increasingly from Your image and likeness. Tears, streaming from Your eyes without stop. The wrenching pain in Your heart does not cease.

See, too, my heavy heart, my sadness. My helplessness. My self-doubts that I can ever witness to You in such a martyrdom. My hidden hope that You will never put me through such a test because I know I might fail You. See my distracted heart that will soon forget the plight of my faraway brothers and sisters until the next article I read or the next invitation to another prayer session. My hypocrisy that pleads for Your help for my dying fellow Christians but puts aside the long overdue reconciliations with those whose lives I have taken by my unChristlike thoughts, words and deeds. 

See, Jesus Dear, those in power who are too calculative to lend a hand. Too afraid to speak up, to get implicated. See, too, those others who go on living in their indifferences. 

But should we go to war? To fight a war with war? Should we start dropping bombs to wipe out Your people? Surely, there must be a more loving solution. Surely, You can do something. Maybe, in my mind is the thought of what You did to Saul on the road to Damascus. Maybe, I wish for a quick-fix, a dramatic and radical conversion of the whole world. But maybe, this isn't what You would do this time. Maybe, You want something more subtle, more thorough. 

And so, Lord, teach us Your ways and move our hearts. Move the hearts of those to whom You have allotted power and authority to intervene and save. 

Give us courage not to run from our sadness. Give us a compassionate concern to be in solidarity with those suffering through our prayers for them.  

Open the eyes of conscience of those who have gone astray, knock on the door of their hearts and plant in them the realisation of what they are truly doing. 

For those who have turned their backs on You like Peter did in the face of threat, grant them the grace to forgive themselves. Let not their destiny be like Judas' on the tree, not even as they live on in this life. Strengthen their faith in the silence of their hearts like You did to Nicodemus who came to You in the night. And fill them with Your Pentecostal Spirit. 

For those who have been killed, do not let their souls wander restlessly and bitterly but bring every one of them into Your comforting embrace, there to share in Your eternal glory. 

And for those who are going to die this moment on, ever-loving Jesus, stay close to them, hold them with Your graces. That they will make perfect Your image and likeness in them by repeating after You, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing. Into Your hands, I commend my spirit." By this, to bear the greatest witness that You are the One True God, the God of infinite love and mercy, and render unto You the glory of Your name.

Finally, after speaking so much and laying out a to-do-list for You, let me at last be silent. Let me sit here with You for a while, my dear Jesus. With Your aching and bleeding heart. To be with You and feel with You, to tear with You and to love with You. 

Grant us all Your peace.