Once again, the holiest week of the Christian calendar has begun with an attack on the Body of Christ in the form of two bomb blasts at Palm Sunday events in Egypt. One of the more striking images shows the blood of the martyrs splattered across the floor of a Coptic Church.
— Bishop Angaelos ن (@BishopAngaelos) April 9, 2017
Currently, the death toll stands at 49, according to Egyptian state media reports. 18 people were killed in a blast in Alexandria, while at least 27 were killed and 78 injured in an explosion in a church in the northern city of Tanta.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, issuing a statement in Arabic in its wake, saying: “The Crusaders and their apostate followers must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large, and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God is willing.”
These actions ought to fill all people of good will with sorrow and righteous anger for the souls taken from this world. The blood of the innocents has once again been spilled, and this injustice cries out to God.
This, like other attempts to attack Christians as they worship, is as quixotic as it is detestable; If there ever were a thought that could be described as being on the “wrong side of history,” it is the idea that somehow martyrdom will somehow weaken the Christian faith.
Of course, this isn’t happening in a vacuum. Christian persecution is on the rise on the global stage and now three quarters of the world’s population lives without the fundamental human freedom to believe, according to European Union Special Envoy Jan Figel in October on the International Day of Freedom of Religion or Belief.
“Therefore, those who believe that humanity should prevail can, and should do, much more for freedom of religion,” Figel told Premier Christian Radio last year. “We are witnesses of a systematic and mass murder, martyrdom and persecution on several territories.”
Even a casual observer of global headlines cannot deny that these new Egyptian martyrs are not alone.
However, regardless of what engine of persecution brings torment or what form it takes, we all suffer together when the dictates of the human conscience are trod underfoot.
What’s puzzling is what these oppressors plan to achieve with attacks like these. Their motivation has to be either rooted in arrogance or ignorance. Do the attackers believe that these attempts will prove more successful than the two thousand years of even worse persecution? Are these two IEDs more potent that the persecutions of Nero and Diocletian? Do they believe themselves more ferocious than the communists, fascists, and countless others that came before them in the 20th century alone?
Last year, when a similar blast in Pakistan carried out by similarly barbaric actors punctuated the news of Easter weekend, I referenced the masterful portrayal of Monsignor O’Flaherty in the 1983 film, “The Scarlet and the Black.” These words seem just as poignant now as they were then – perhaps even more.
When confronting SS officer Herbert Kappler in the dead of night in the ruins of the Roman Coliseum, O’Flaherty give the Nazi operative a quick history lesson:
Kappler: There will be a new order in Europe. We are evacuating Rome now, but that means nothing. We’ll be back. The Third Reich is the future.
O’Flaherty: How many murderous dictators have taught that kind of rubbish? Just look around you, Kappler. You’re standing where your ancient friends used to entertain themselves, watching lions tear the Christians to pieces. But the Church is still here. A lot of broken stones like these, in a few years that’s all that’ll be left of your ‘Third Reich.’
Time proved the good Monsignor right. Kappler’s murderous ideology and all those like him now sit smoldering on the ash heap of history; in time, the same will be true for the thugs who detonated those bombs in Egypt over the weekend.
The Church, however, will be just fine – just as She always has been. (For more from the author of “The Palm Sunday Attacks in Egypt Are Horrid, but They Too Will Fail” please click HERE)