Wednesday, April 22, 2015

With One Accord

With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city.  Acts 8:6-8

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.  John 6:35

What was going through the minds of the 28 Ethiopian Christians as they walked along the beach last week before they died?  Now they will never hunger again.  Now they will never thirst.  May their last thoughts and prayers about the ones they love be lifted up to the highest.  Let our prayers be joined with theirs.   

Jesus was serious when he said to pick up your cross daily and follow me. 

The kinds of persecution and martyrdom that Stephen experienced in the early church continued as Saul emerges onto the scene.  Two thousand and fifteen years later, it has not disappeared. 

Maybe thee followers did not know what Jesus meant at the time.  Yet once they saw what happened to Jesus, their first reaction was to hide and go back to their old ways of life.  If that succeeded, then there would be no church, no Cursillo and no tripod.

Once they were strengthened with the food that sustains life, they took the “be-not-afraid” message to heart.  Eventually, they left the Upper Room and started healing the sick, freeing the possessed and preaching the Good News.  And there was “great joy.”  Until the persecution continued.

A recent story on the National Catholic Register web site reported the reaction of Pope Francis to the latest massacre of Christians:

Pope Francis this evening sent a message of solidarity to Patriarch Matthias of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church following the release of a video showing the killing of 28 Ethiopian Christians by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in Libya. 

"With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya," the Pope wrote, adding that he was reaching out to Patriarch Matthias and his flock "in heartfelt spiritual solidarity to assure you of my closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia."

"It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant," the Pope went on. "Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ! The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil. All the more this cry must be heard by those who have the destiny of peoples in their hands."

Pray that persecution of any person anywhere because of their faith ends.  

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