14 September 2014

What does today's Solemnity mean to the Iraqi and Syrian Christians?

As I concelebrated the Holy Mass this morning in the Basilica of Saint Francis, I found myself wondering what today's Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross means for the Christians in Iraq and in Syria who have recently seen their members of their families, their friends and neighbors, even - maybe - strangers, crucified in the streets. Do see the glory of the Cross today, or only its brutality?

When I returned to my apartment, I saw that Pope Francis and I must have been thinking along the same lines today, for during his Angelus Address today, the Holy Father considered the question of why the Church exalts the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We do so, he said, because "the Cross of Christ is our only true hope!"

He then turned his thoughts to our many brothers and sisters presently suffering greatly for their faith in Jesus Christ:
While we contemplate and celebrate the Holy Cross, we think emotionally of so many of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and killed because of their faith in Christ. This happens especially there where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or fully realized. It happens, however, even in well-to-do countries which, in principle, protect freedom and human rights, but where in practice believers, and especially Christians, encounter restrictions and discrimination. So today we remember them and pray especially for them.
Let us remember today that we are all N, that we are all members of the one Body of Christ; their suffering is our suffering.

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