The famous and colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janiero is being illumined each night this week with red lights to draw attention "to the plight of the Christian martyrs of today," reports Aid to the Church in Need International:
In the first reading proclaimed today at the Holy Mass, the Apostle Paul takes up a text from one of the Psalms: "For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are being looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered" (Psalm 44:22). Surely our brothers and sisters who have lost so much because of their loyal love of Jesus Christ known the full meaning of these words.
Sitting in our more or less comfortable homes far away from such a fierce and certain persecution look upon these words with some dread, but Saint Paul does not. He goes on to say:
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
The Christian martyrs of our own day - who are more numerous than the martyrs under the Roman Empire - know that Christ the Redeemer has bought them with the price of his own blood and, consequently, they will not allow themselves to be separated from his love. Rather than renounce their faith in him, they chose to bear witness to his love with their own blood.
The illumination of this great statue gives us a good reminder to fast and pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, to do what we can to make others aware of their plight, and to come to their material aid in whatever way we can.