“You’ve got to wake them up!” These are the words spoken to me by priests from the Middle East, men who have held fast to faith in Jesus Christ in spite of great danger and suffering. They warn us of a murderous ideology bent on stamping out Christianity and dominating the world. “By the time America wakes up,” one priest told me, “it will be too late.”
“And after the attack in Orlando? Do you think that will awaken them?” Came the stark reply: “No.”
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares expressed their “profound condolences for the victims of this senseless act of terror,” and asked the faithful to pray for those involved.
When the news broke that an ISIS-inspired terrorist attacked a nightclub in Orlando, Florida and that there was a need for blood, hundreds showed up to donate. Americans are like that. They want to do something.
But other than giving blood, what else can you do? Open up your Bibles — our marching orders come straight from the Gospel. There’s also some intriguing news that ought to
Forty-eight hours prior to the attack, at a Mass for new graduates of the Kino Catechetical Institute, Bishop Olmsted pointed out that millions of Muslims are becoming Christian every year.
“Recent studies carefully done by scholars whose primary work is religious studies tell us that converts are popping up all over Islamic countries and among immigrants and refugees in Western countries, including the United States,” Bishop Olmsted said. “In America, Islamic scholar Dudley Woodberry estimates that 20,000 Muslims enter the Christian faith every year in our country. Why?”
It seems that ISIS persecution of Christians has made some Muslims very unhappy with their own faith, even embarrassed and apologetic, the bishop said.
More importantly, they are seeing among their Christian friends and neighbors how Christians love one another, how they treat Muslims as good neighbors and that many of their Christian friends even love their enemies.
Wait. They’re actually living the Gospel?
Yep. And the love and forgiveness practiced by those who follow Jesus is proving quite persuasive in bringing converts from Islam into the fold of Jesus Christ.
And that’s where you and I come in. Every time we hear of these horrendous terror attacks, we have a choice: to become mired in the news, angry and discouraged, or to embrace the Gospel. I am convinced that if each of us who calls ourselves a Christian would commit to three actions, we would see tremendous change in our world, change that would help defeat terrorism.
First, let us commit ourselves to at least one act of love each day. This could be anything from visiting an elderly neighbor, to helping someone carry in the groceries, to listening to a stressed-out co-worker.
Second, let’s commit ourselves to truly forgiving from the heart every single wrong done to us each day. In our own lives, we need to forgive those who have hurt us. That forgiveness is a powerful witness to freedom in Christ.
Third, let us commit to praying daily that many more will come to know the love, forgiveness and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The thousands of Muslims inspired to convert to Christianity, Bishop Olmsted said in his homily, “are learning that the Bible reveals a God who loves everybody, the good and the bad, and that Jesus loved us even unto death on the cross.”
May our commitment to the Gospel and to love, forgiveness and mercy draw more souls to Christ and bring peace to our troubled world.