It saddens me deeply while at the same time I rejoice greatly following the tragic events of Alexandria, Egypt in which the world arose, stood up and began to see the daily atrocities and hardships that face Coptic Christians in Egypt!
We must not dwell on the negatives only my friends, rather we should use this event as an opportunity to change, an opportunity to seek equality and fairness, an opportunity to stand up and raise our voices in one voice and say that we are proud of the “Cross”. Unlike the cowards that ran away from the cars that bombed the church we must face the battle, we must not be afraid but arise, we must not be weak but strong, in doing this we become ambassadors for Christ.
We must not forget the martyrs whose blood was spread all around the streets, the body parts that littered the scene, the skulls that had no brains, and the guts that poured out from people who were innocently killed by vicious and callous perpetrators. They have become overnight saints and intercessors for us all. Their blood reminds me of Cain and Able, when God comes to Cain and says where is your brother Able, to which Cain replies “I do not know am I my brother’s keeper?” and the Lord replies, “the voice of your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground”. How true this is when we see the pictures of blood all poured out on the street. Their blood is precious in the site of the Lord, these martyrs stand as one under the altar mentioned in revelations by St John the Beloved, arrayed in white apparel shouting to the lord asking for vengeance, to which the Lord replies, Vengeance is Mine, Says the Lord!
We shouldn’t be afraid of dying, for death is only a transition for the Christian, it’s not the end but the start of a new chapter, a chapter that never ends. St Paul says eloquently writes “that to live is Christ and to die is gain.” How true this is, watching the funeral service for these martyrs’ brought shivers down my spine. The awe inspiring chanting and passion in the service combined with the clapping and cheering truly captured the Orthodox spirit – a spirit that thrives on persecution and hardship in the face of tribulation and anguish.
It made me so proud to hear our beloved Pope in the media conference say, “if only we all could die this way – we would be guaranteed heaven”. This is the spirit of the Coptic Christian! We must remember that we should not be afraid of those that kill the body; rather we should be afraid of HIM who has both power and authority to cast both body and soul in the abyss of hell! We should never forget to be cheerful in the face of tribulation, because Jesus has overcome and conquered the world. Our sorrow will be turned into Joy.
It still amazes me how these so called Muslim warriors don’t understand that death to a Christian is a joy and honour. To be martyred for Christ is the greatest privilege any worshipper can receive. St Paul says, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, if we die we die to the lord, therefore whether we live or die we are the Lord’s” Rom 14:8.
Unlike the Muslim understanding of martyrdom which is out right barbaric, inhumane and corrupt, Christian martyrdom is not killing others for a cause, rather it’s being killed for a cause. The reward for the Muslim – is 70 virgins, however for the Christian it is being counted as a warrior for Christ. Having died for the name of Christ, Christ himself offers them as fragrance to the Father where they are blessed, not with physical pleasure (for how can there be physical pleasure when our bodies remain on Earth becoming nothing but dust) rather they are blessed with spiritual joy and peace that is ineffable, immeasurable and incomprehensible.
For the true Christian, Death is gain (Philippians 1:21), it is never loss, it is the most joyful day for us.
For this very reason neither, fear, torture, violence, rape, murder in fact anything humanly possibly can turn our attention off the goal, we run in the race of life (1 Corinthians 9:24), to receive the ultimate prize. Our aim is to say with St Paul at the end of our lives, that we have fought the good fight, finished the race and have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).
Our Muslim brothers need to understand that suffering for the Christian is partaking in the passion of Christ. We become imitators of Christ, when we are sworn at, spat at, scourged, speared, insulted and so on. When these jihadists persecute us as Copts they do themselves no favours, for it only makes us stronger and more stubborn in our Faith, it gives us the thrill and pleasure of suffering for Christ. They need to understand that we are not afraid of being martyred, for truly it is an honour!
My friends I urge all of us to strengthen each other as we draw towards the Nativity of our Lord. Neither be afraid or dismayed to attend the midnight services even if threats have been made against us and against specific churches in the west. We must stand united with our brothers in Egypt, if they being subject to daily harassment and persecution are attending services in record numbers, how can we be afraid of attending the Feast of the Nativity in the safety of the west. Share in the honour of worshipping our Lord, for the Lord says in Matt 10:32 that “whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven”.
We must also thank the media for giving us a voice, for the first time in memory we have actually had our story told and heard in detail and in depth. I have included some of the recent media reports for everyone to see.
Remember it is not us that fights it is the ALMIGHTY HIM that will fight for us.