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Coptic Orthodox Christians beheaded by Islamic State

0012211554“They were killed simply for the fact they were Christians,””The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard,”, “They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.’

Rijo Geevarghese, one of our MGOCSM member, who is presently studying Iconography in Cairo, Egypt, wrote in Facebook,on 16th February.

“And My Coptic Christian friend said, Forgive those militants and lets pray for them, for they do not know what they are doing”+

Shalom +++
I want to share an experience and some thoughts, going through my mind from last couple of days.
Friday, 13th February I was having my exam and paper submission at St Mark’s Cathedral. Before leaving the Institute of Coptic studies I saw a huge crowd in front of Pope’s residency at Anba Rewis. I didn’t know the reason why they were standing there, holding banners with some Arabic inscriptions. Later my Egyptian colleagues told me they all are the families of 21 Coptic Christians kidnapped by ISIS. After reaching back in my room, I went through the whole issue in internet and was hopeful because there were very good chances of their release as Egyptian government and also many Islamic officials interfered in this matter. Earlier the Relatives of the kidnapped workers had urged even in front of UN office at Cairo for their release. I really hoped about their release and that evening the anxious faces of their relatives were going through my mind.

Sunday, 15th February, evening, the day before Great lent, which is also considered as the day of forgiveness according to Orthodox church belief. That day I received a message from one of my Egyptian friend,

Message: Rijo “ISIS beheaded all 21 kidnapped Copts “

I was shattered by this news because I couldn’t believe it happened, a very disturbing and traumatic event. Coincidentally, it happened on the day of Forgiveness (Al Shubkono), the day before Great lent. I messaged one of my Coptic friends asking forgiveness and she replied ,

Message: “First, lets forgive those militants, and pray for them for they do not know what they are doing.”

This above message unveiled that I don’t have the strength to forgive someone to that level. This incidence was not normal for me, especially being an Indian. I have only heard about Christian Persecution in Middle East but never experienced one. Or this might not even an experience in compare to the trauma victim’s families going through. The reason it happened on the day of forgiveness and just before the Great lent was not a mere coincidence.

Many a time we underestimate the power and depth of Forgiveness. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two of the most difficult task. And this is what Christ taught us, sometimes I think, how it was possible for Jesus, when he was tortured and killed on Cross and then teaching us to “forgive those who persecute you and pray for them.”

This Great lent is a journey with hopeful heart, with pictures of newly crowned 21 Martyrs and their families in front of my eyes. In these days of Great lent their martyrdom teaches all of us to be firm and strong in our faith. Let’s not fear them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Mt 10:28). Let’s forgive and Love them who persecute us, who strike us, who hate us.

May God Almighty grant us that strength to forgive and Love those who persecute us.
Remembering the Martyrs, their families and the militants in prayers

 

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We the Indian Orthodox Church members expressing our deep heartfelt condolence, solidarity and prayers. Continuing our prayer support to  all persecuted Brethren, especially to the Coptic Orthodox Church.Let all of us offer our prayers for the Egyptian nation and the world-wide Coptic community and for the entire region of the Middle East.

Fr.Thomas Philipose,

Web Manager, Diocese of Bombay,

MOSC

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