When will the West listen?
A motion is to be put before the UK Parliament next week calling on the House to recognise that Christians and other minority groups in the Middle East are facing genocide.
The terror being wrought by ISIS is well known to all, though the fact that it is mainly targeted towards Christians is not so well documented in the West.
This is an opportunity for the UK government to take a stand against ISIS by declaring their actions to be a genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities.
Pope Francis has urged people to more consistent in their
faith, even to the point of martyrdom. During
his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday the pope described the true
Christian witness as someone who is “consistent” in what he says, what he does,
and what he has received, namely the Holy Spirit.
He continued: “It is the witness of our martyrs today – so many!
– chased out of their homeland, driven away, having their throats cut,
persecuted: they have the courage to confess Jesus even to the point of
As we embark on another Holy Week we cast our hearts and minds back to Christ's persecution at the hands of his executioners. Jesus' Passion was a horrific and exhausting episode filled with hate, violence, abuse, blood and gore. All directed at one person.
The culmination of this hatred and violence was death on a cross. Left to hang in shame, to be gawped at by the very people he loved and was sent to save.
But thankfully, this death on a cross was not the end.
A Pew Research study into Christianity in Latin America has
revealed some worrying differences between Catholics and Protestants in the way
that they practice and live out their Christian faith. Latin America is a significantly Christian
region with 69% of the population identifying as Catholic, 19% as Protestant,
and 9% as unaffiliated. The region has,
however, witnessed a fairly large number of conversions from Catholicism to
Protestantism in recent years.
A link to the study can be found at the bottom of this page.
Do you speak openly about your faith to others? Are you not afraid to be frank about how your
religion shapes your moral code? Do you
even go as far as to try to bring others round to your way of thinking on
social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter?
In the New Evangelisation just a few years back, Pope
Benedict XVI encouraged us to get out into the world to preach the Good News of
Jesus Christ. And he wanted us to use
every available platform at our disposal in order to do this.
Some people may well believe that there is some sort of war
of words brewing between Pope Francis and the outspoken Republican Presidential
hopeful Donald Trump. Trump hasn’t shied
away from criticising the pope’s recent visit to Mexico, suggesting that the
pope doesn’t appreciate the problems of an open border between the United
States and Mexico. He has also claimed
that the pontiff is becoming a “political person”.
What Trump doesn’t appreciate is that, while the pope may
not appreciate the perceived difficulties Trump has with the lack of a concrete
wall between Mexico and the US, he does appreciate the need for unity over
division, even when this means we may lose a little as a result.
A number of weeks ago I saw a great post on Facebook about
making up gift bags for the homeless. I
followed this up with my own post on the matter and it was warmly
welcomed. But as with a lot of these
things the impetus faded and I never really got things properly off the ground.
But thank goodness for Lent!
The season for getting up off my backside and actually doing something
positive for those in need is here and I feel the need to respond. Our call to help the poor is, of course, a
year round one but Lent is a great time to really kick-start a new
Gospel (Luke 9:22-25):
to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be
rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death,
and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of
mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.
For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his
life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to
have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?
Jesus was compassionate but firm in the Truth
Pope Francis, during his Sunday Angelus, has spoken about the
importance of Baptism and the role it plays in our lives. Having earlier baptised 26 baby girls and boys at
morning Mass, the pope was keen to impress upon the gathered faithful the
critical nature of this sacrament.
pope said that in Baptism the Holy Spirit "burns and destroys original sin, returning
to baptism the beauty of divine grace.”
pope then stressed the importance of following Jesus and being obedient to the
Truth whilst remaining true to Christ’s qualities of tenderness and humility.
Jesus is waiting to embrace each and every one of us
“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will
give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
It's often hard as human beings to admit we are tired or
weary. We have an in-built pride that
means we often brush aside any notion of weakness and soldier on. But sometimes we have to stop and appreciate
that we do have limitations and that we do need help.
In the scripture passage above Jesus is giving us the option
of going to him for that help.