An Explosive Easter

04-10-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

On Easter Sunday a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at a playground in Pakistan killing many of the children and their mothers. He did it because they were celebrating Easter and with full knowledge that the victims would be children and their mothers. Think of that: what kind of monster targets a playground? When we execute a war or a battle we have serious rules of engagement and we even debated in our country whether something like waterboarding was too extreme even for a captured terrorist.

A Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow was killed because on his Facebook page he wished his Christian customer a happy Easter.

In Yemen four of Mother Teresa's sisters were shot at blank range in the nursing home they operated there along with twelve other staff people. Again because they were Christian. The priest who served there has been taken hostage by radical Islamists and is rumored to have been crucified on Good Friday.

This is just a sliver of what Christians worldwide are facing on a daily basis. Still our government officials can't bring themselves to admit that these victims were targeted because they are Christians. They were attacked because they are Christians not just victims of a terrorist attack. Why does that matter? Because it would show that we stand in solidarity with them, that they are not forgotten and maybe give them some encouragement and hope.

Whenever these attacks happen we are quickly reminded that Islam is a religion of peace and that these terrorists are perverting the Islamic faith. Yet we never hear that Christians are peace-loving people who are being executed for no reason other than their faith. We hear from our President that the Islamic State is not Islamic? What is it Presbyterian? And after atrocities committed against innocent people by Islamic terrorists the first reaction from many is fear of an anti-Muslim backlash. Right away Christianity is indicted along with the Islamic terrorists. If you remember back during the Abuse Scandal in the Church, as often as government officials opened investigations or pressed charges, they never said things like, "it is not all priests who have abused people".

I guess the officials can call it whatever they want or that makes them feel good. But Christianity has never been shy of calling out evil and that is what this is. We are in a battle between light and darkness. We have been called to be the light of the world. To bring the Master's love and mercy to the world even to the terrorists as hard as that may be. In this battle we will suffer loss and for that we must give thanks and rejoice. We will experience victories as well and for that we must give thanks and rejoice as well. Many trials await us and our fellow believers throughout the world. We will pray for each other and stand with each other and beg God to help us find a way to rid ourselves of this evil in our midst.

And so as Christians we do what every Christian before has done: remember the words of Jesus: " I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

During this Easter season one of our Sunday readings is from the Book of Revelation. A book that describes terrible times for believers but also an infusion of hope and strength and a reminder that God has not forgotten us. Jesus the Faithful Witness is alive and still walks among us. It is that hope, strength and trust in Jesus that we need to cultivate now so we are prepared to navigate the storms that are thickening around us.

"The grace of our Lord Jesus be with all the Saints. Amen."

Love, Fr. John B.

P.S. Come celebrate our annual Parish Festival on Saturday beginning at Noon!