Sometimes, following Saint Philip Neri in his spirit of joy is a difficult one, as we hear of another Islamic attack, this time on a bus filled with Christians on a desert road, many of them children, en route to the shrine of Saint Samuel the Confessor, just south of Cairo. The attackers sprayed the bus with bullets, killing at least 28 and wounding many others. As always, we must pray for the victims but, even more, for the perpetrators. Regardless of whatever ‘religious motivation’ they put on this, their souls are in grave danger of a far greater evil than quick death by a bullet, a punishment of a more eternal variety.
As Pope John Paul II taught in the opening words of Evangelium Vitae, concerning every heinous crime against life, that they “poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator“. There is no glory given to Allah by murdering defenseless women and children, rather the precise opposite. These murderers will likely go ahead and follow the ‘fast’ of Ramadan, which begins this evening, but to what use? Unless such external actions lead to deep, interior repentance and conversion, they may as well not bother.
As God spoke through the prophet Isaiah in the very first chapter:
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD…
When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson they shall become like wool.
May the crimson blood of these new martyrs intercede for these men consumed by evil, who think, in some way, that they do good. Remove the blindness of their eyes and the hardness of their hearts, that they and all who follow them may one day walk in truth and newness of life.