The year 2014 witnessed greater persecution against Christians around the world. It is not entirely new that Christians are persecuted for their faith but in the past few years, we have seen an upward surge unprecedented in recent history. In 2020, the level of persecution has reached a new high especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. According to Open Doors, a US-based agency serving persecuted Christians worldwide, the persecution of Christians doubled in 2013. In its report, it says that Christianity as the largest faith in the world with 2.2 billion followers, which is about 32% of the world population, faces hostility in 111 countries. While there are persistent internal tensions with the second-largest religion, Islam, it fiercely faces restrictions in ultra-conservative countries, which do not favor another state religion. In all, Christians faced persecution that saw the birth of many martyrs simply for their faith as Christians in 2013. This situation prompted the Vatican representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, to voice out his concerns to the UN Human Rights Council. According to him, every year over 100,000 Christians is violently killed because of their faith. The rank of those persecuted cuts across all ranks of the Church hierarchy from missing bishops kidnapped nuns, abducted priests too numerous lay followers suffering martyrdom in the hands of their dangerous persecutors.READ MORE
After listening to different news media reports onthe endless skirmishes between Israel and thePalestinians in Gaza, I decided to find out formyself what history could offer me about thiscontroversial subject. I found a book of greatinterest, The Middle East by Bernard Lewis,a historian of great repute and versed on thesubject. From the first to the last page, I read indetail the rise and fall of different empires,sultanates or caliphates, or khanates in what wenow call the Middle East.READ MORE
In many novels, plays, and films there are storms. Characters look to grey skies and warn that a storm is coming. This is not just a weather forecast! In our own daily lives when we face difficult or painful situations we talk about ‘ weathering a storm&rsquo, or ‘ being all at sea.’ These recent months whether at a personal, local, national or global level, we have all weathered, battled, and hopefully survived the storm that was and still is the Coronavirus. It shook and rattled us and we all did our very best to hang on and survive. Hopefully these days now, that storm is easing for us.
In the gospel today, the disciples find themselves in a storm while at sea in a boat, but this is not the only storm they are facing. The gospel continues directly from last week’s when Jesus fed the crowd. After sending them away, Jesus again spends time alone where he can be silent, rest and pray. Even Jesus can’t be busy and active all the time. While the disciples are at sea the famous storm blows and bellows.READ MORE
Jesus multiplied two fish and five loaves for amultitude of people. He knew that the peopledepended on him while he taught them by thehillside. When it was time to depart and go backto their homes, he did not allow them to emptyhanded. He instructed the apostles to give themsomething to eat. They could only find two fishand five loaves. Jesus multiplied them and gavethem out for the people to eat.
Anytime we read this section in the Bible, we arealways moved with surprise that Jesus couldmultiply few loves of bread and fish for a largegathering. However, we should not be surprisedcompletely and lose the point. Jesus is the sonof God. He came from the Father to show ushow much he loves us. He used many difficultand impossible situations to reveal, to us pieceby piece how much he cares about us. Insteadof believing in God’s ultimate power, wequestion everything about him.
Consider this fact. Five thousand men excludingwomen and children ate from the two fish andfive loaves. Do you know how much food fivethousand men could eat? What about thewomen and their children? Combining the foodthat came from the fish and bread gives us thecourage to term this a miracle. Our faith teachesus that Jesus did many other miracles tosubstantiate his position as God’s Only begottenson.READ MORE