Ten seconds into this video and you think you’ve seen it before: the sound of firearms, of men shouting in an all too familiar language that we’ve heard over and over again in news sound bites.
Twenty seconds into this video and you’re “sympathetic” towards the woman’s plea, “isn’t it bad over there.”
Thirty seconds in and you’re baffled by the image of the whole room, and you’re struggling to comprehend the whole scenario. The pain almost becomes more real by the contrast between the woman and those who are standing around silent; “sympathy,” you understand, isn’t the proper response.
Forty seconds in… “Save us! In the name of humanity! Save us!” and you realize, though you thought you’d seen it before – and maybe you had – this was something that you could not turn away from.
That was certainly my experience of this video, and I hope, in some way, it is yours too.
The words of Msgr. Mirkis really hit me hard, especially in light of the way that I responded to those first forty seconds. He was describing me, and my complacency in thinking that I’d seen it before:
“Everything becomes normal… The first time shock, but the third time – normal.”
But the persecution of others should have never become normal. It’s an outrage, and it’s right that his response to this attitude is anger.
And yet the video remains so hopeful!
We hear how the persecution is showing the Christians just what a valuable treasure it is that they have. And there’s a call to stand firm, to be courageous, and to profess the faith with more commitment and zeal than they have in the past. It’s quite remarkable and words escape me.
For our part, the video calls for our prayers. And we must pray! For this is how we must respond in the very first instant to that woman’s cry for help, and this is how we break out of the normalization of their persecution. We must pray fervently, and we must pray with a simple and profound trust in the reality of the power that our prayers possess.
But what do we pray for? An end to the persecution? The conversion of the persecutors to Christ? We all have our own prayer of the heart, but let us pray as intercessors for our Christian brothers and sisters, in filial trust in God, and with steadfast perseverance in love.
This is still going on today. Right now. And so I invite you, having read this article, to stop and pray now: set down your device, turn off the radio, and pray for our brothers and sisters, for we must not stay silent.
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