Hundreds of Christians were killed in Sri Lanka in several explosions as they celebrated Easter and Christ’s Resurrection. This is what the Augustinian Recollect Antonio Carrón reflects on.
Waking up on Easter Sunday with the news of the Sri Lankan attacks on several hotels and churches has had a big impact on everyone. On a day when life and joy become the protagonists, death and sadness flooded the world. And it was not the first time: there, in 2017, there were 47 victims of another attack on Christians during the Palm Sunday celebration. In total, during 2018 more than 4,000 Christians lost their lives for professing their faith, and perhaps it is something that is going too unnoticed. Not long ago Notre Dame burned in Paris and the world – believing and non-believing – turned into an endless stream of sadness, support and desires for reconstruction. Today we are talking about 245 million Christians who are persecuted in the world for their faith, many of them die (in Sri Lanka and many other places), and it may not seem to have as much impact, not as noticeable or, at least, not as interesting. As if the history of stone seemed more valuable than the history of flesh…
The Church, from its origins, has been persecuted. It was the witness of the first martyrs that gave a definitive impulse to the incipient Christian community which encountered an endless number of obstacles. Many of these testimonies continue to be a force for many others to live their faith today with hope. And yes, throughout history the Church has lived and continues to live its crises and contradictions for many different reasons: abuse of power, ambition, selfishness, hypocrisy… Constituted by human beings, the Church has that human dimension and, therefore, touched by evil. But the Church is also holy and, day by day, millions of people go forward, in many ways and in many places, with the mission entrusted by Jesus Christ: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel” (Mk 16:15).
When everything is going well, when the Church is applauded, accepted or privileged, we should ask ourselves if everything is really going well. If the Church is persecuted for witnessing to the faith and there are Christians who give their lives for Jesus Christ and his Gospel, then it is when his Word is becoming a reality: “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt 10:37-42) “In this time you will receive a hundred times more, with persecutions, and in the future age, eternal life. (Mk 10, 28-31)
The attacks in Sri Lanka did not distinguish: there were people on holiday, people working, celebrating Easter or simply passing by. Evil does not distinguish, but good always triumphs. The existence of evil in the world is an invitation that, from the Gospel, we unite and overcome evil by good.
Antonio Carrón de la Torre OAR