A few days ago I received an email from the Melkite parish in London which contained the following response to the recent terrorist atrocities in Sri Lanka. It is entitled The New Martyrs of Sri Lanka and is the work of an Indian Catholic nun who has addressed it to the killers who took so many innocent lives.
“I appreciate that you made the effort to find out the timing of our Mass and I appreciate that you learned more about our religion knowing that Sundays are the days we go to church for the congregational prayers and Mass. But I guess there were somethings you…didn’t get to learn. Perhaps you didn’t know that what you did made them martyrs and that you have single-handedly raised the status of our brothers and sisters in the eyes of their beloved Jesus by your actions. And how, through your actions, they will be raised as the most righteous and pious of Christians. Perhaps you didn’t know that doing what you did, at the time and place you chose, meant that the last words that escaped their lips were probably words of remembrance and praise for Jesus, which is a noble end which many Christians could only dream of.
I appreciate the fact that you showed the world how Christians welcome with open arms people even like yourself into our church which is our second home. I appreciate you for showing that our churches have no locks and gates and are unguarded, because everyone and anyone is welcome to be with us. I appreciate you for allowing the world to see the powerful image of a man you injured, lying on his back on the stretcher with his index finger raised high as a declaration of his faith and complete trust in Jesus. I appreciate how you brought the Churches, Government and communities together to stand with us. I appreciate that you made countless Sri Lankans come out of their homes to visit the church nearest to them with flowers and with beautiful messages of peace and love. You have broken many hearts and you have made the world weep. You have left a huge void.
But what you have also done is to bring us closer together and it has strengthened our faith and resolve in the coming weeks. More people will turn up in the church, a place you hate so much, fortified by the strength in our faith and inspired by our fallen brothers and sisters. In the coming weeks more non-Christians will turn up at the gates of our churches with fresh flowers and beautifully handwritten notes. They may not have known where the church in their area was, but now they do! All because of you!
You may have achieved your aim of intended destruction but I guess you failed to incite hatred, fear and despair in all of us. And while I understand that it may have been your objective, I hate to say that after all that elaborate planning and the perverse and wretched efforts on your part, you still failed to drive a divide among the Catholics and non-Christians in the world. For that I can’t say that I’m sorry!”
What a wonderful act of witness it was to write something of this kind! It was a great sadness that there could be no Masses in Sri Lankan Catholic churches last weekend but here is the evidence that amidst all the death and destruction wreaked by the terrorists the faith of Sri Lankan Catholics is very much alive!