Most of us have heard by now of the horrendous persecution of Christians in Iraq. We’ve seen recordings of murder and suffering. We’ve heard that the Christians are given this ultimatum: convert or be killed. Truly horrible things.
We might think to ourselves, “If this was happening in America, there’s no way it would last. If this was happening in America, I would do something about it! As it is, I can’t do anything because it’s halfway around the world from me. Besides, I’m just one person – I can’t do anything on my own anyways.” Then we go on watching our favorite TV shows and talk about how excited we are that it’s football season. I know this because I’ve done the same thing. We must avoid this mentality! We can actually help, even here and now!
We too often forget how powerful prayer can be! Beg the Lord for an end to the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ! Beg him also for great graces of perseverance for those same brothers and sisters, that they might remain strong in their belief in Jesus Christ and not sway from the Way, the Truth, and the Life!
There is still yet a more powerful way we can help: solidarity. Now, before we go any further, let’s take a minute and consider the horrible conditions these Christians are going through: hiding throughout the land without enough food and water, without shelters and beds, never sure if they’ll live another day.
Solidarity: “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). We can unite ourselves to our brothers and sisters in Iraq by joining with them in the struggle. Doing this will help us remember that Christ came to save all people and not only those of us living in America. Obviously, our lives are not being threatened as theirs are, but we can choose to suffer with them. We can choose to eat less food and hear our stomachs grumble, since their stomachs grumble constantly. We can avoid the luxury of hot water, since they have no hot water. We can sleep on the floor, since they can’t rest in the comforts of their own home. We can turn off our phones, radios, computers, or TVs for a day or two, since they have no forms of communication or entertainment beyond their own basic interaction among the people next to them. There are countless ways we can enter into the suffering with them and so turn that into our prayer for them. We choose to suffer with them and then unite that suffering with the suffering of Jesus. Our suffering, then, can redeem the world because it has become the suffering of Jesus.
Fellow disciples of Jesus Christ, come to the aid of your brothers and sisters, who are being persecuted because of their belief in Jesus! Do not let them suffer alone! Even halfway around the world, we must help them remain strong in their faith!