Maria Kozakiewicz

WORD MADE FLESH

Fourth Sunday in Easter – April 17, 2016
Acts 13.14, 43-52 | Psalm 100 | Revelation 7.9, 14-17 | John 10.27-30
April 4, 2016

"These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

Who are those "who have survived the time of great distress?"

My first thoughts run towards persecuted Christians, especially those of our times. We read about them in the Christian press, rarely in the mass media. Their numbers are in the hundreds of thousands. Some names we know; others are known to God alone.

These men, women and children are thrown out of their homes, robbed, beaten, raped, beheaded and even crucified because they are followers of Christ. Once again, as in the days of the Roman Empire, the name "Christian" becomes an anathema, almost a curse.

I am still in touch with survivors of Garissa massacre in Kenya. Those university students on Holy Thursday 2015 witnessed or escaped the execution-style death of their friends, murdered by Al Shabab terrorists.

They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. - Revelation 7.14

ISLAMIC STATE MILITANTS LEAD WHAT ARE SAID TO BE ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS ALONG A BEACH IN LIBYA IN APRIL 2015. CNS PHOTO | SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITE VIA REUTERS TV

'They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.'

Revelation 7.14

Then there are those 200 young girls in Africa, kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists from a Christian school and never recovered. One girl who escaped from the jungle camp where some of the girls were held told horror stories about their treatment.

And may we not forget the Missionaries of Charity and their attendants who were murdered March 4 in the seniors' home where they tended the aged. The list is endless.

I have no doubt that all those who suffered and died for the Lamb, had their earthly "robes" washed by Christ himself. Lovingly, he poured over them his purifying blood.

There was no judgment for his best friends. There never is. Love covers so many sins. So now they will not thirst and hunger, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. It is a joyful thought.

Whenever I am tempted to hate those who kill, maim, rob and torture my brothers and sisters in Christ, I think of those words and regain my peace. If we allow ourselves to look at the persecution of Christians with the eyes of Christ the Lamb, we see that it is the murderers who should be pitied.

Will God also wipe the tears of those who "suffer great distress" in the relative peace and comfort of our privileged part of the world?

I know an old woman whose heart bleeds constantly because she has been separated from her beloved granddaughter. On the rare occasions when she meets her she can see how the child's soul is changing.

"I know now what Jesus feels when we turn our back on him," the old woman says sadly.

She does not give up, but keeps praying day and night. I dared to ask her, "What are you praying for? For the girl's return to you?"

"No," she says. "I ask Jesus to find someone to bring her back to him. Not to me, to him. I am not important, but she must not lose him."

This too is martyrdom.