I have been more and more overwhelmed by the example of the Egyptian Christians. In the midst of martyrdom and persecution, time and time again they display the mercy and tenderness of Jesus Christ. They have constantly showed the power of the Resurrection by constantly burying their pain and fear within the wounds of Christ, and in this way, they are able to participate in the forgiveness that our heavenly Father offers to all people. It is precisely in their ability to let go of anger and revenge that they show the deep reality of an authentic Easter joy.
So often, we fail to experience this freedom because we cling to our limited egos. Instead of practicing self-forgetting, we harbor grudges and perpetuate disharmony by failing to allow Christ’s forgiveness to permeate all that we do. Such an attitude poisons our ability to enter into the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Thus, even our good works tend to bear bad fruit as they are nurtured more by pride than grace.
We must learn to be more like the Egyptian martyrs that were killed by ISIS. Instead of condemnation, we must cultivate their capacity to allow Christ’s love to enter into the darkness and bring the power of His love. So many times we are faced with subtle forms in which others seek to execute our pride. Sarcasm, critique, and misunderstanding can lead us either to a posture of self-righteous confrontation or it can open our hearts in devotion like the martyrs. Instead of self-pity and anger, the Egyptian martyrs showed a boundless capacity for mercy and tenderness.
If we learn the art of being a daily martyr, in time we will find that we can transform the culture around us, even if it is only in a limited way. Our friendships, our colleagues, and all who come into contact with us will sense our deep reservoir of love and devotion. We will become conduits of Christ’s healing power as others see in us a steady and faithful witness to the Gospel. This is the way that we can live out and be signs of Easter joy.
Today, let us be inspired by the witness of the Egyptian Christians. Let us be moved to a greater capacity to forgive and let go of the pains and hurt that others cause us. In this way, we can learn to be martyrs who have discovered how to die with Christ so as to participate in his Resurrection.
For one example of the incredible witness of the Egyptian Church see: