Modern Martyrdom

The militants of the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video entitled “A Message Signed in Blood to the Nation of the Cross” in which they released a warning saying they were “south of Rome.” They then proceeded to murder, by beheading 21 Coptic Christian men. These Christian men were seen, on the video calling on the Holy Name of Jesus as they were savagely murdered.

These men are martyrs for the faith, pure and simple. The martyrdom of the 21 Christians will be commemorated on the 8th Amshir of the Coptic calendar, or Feb. 15 of the Gregorian calendar. The commemoration falls on the feast day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

Pope Francis said “It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! The martyrs belong to all Christians.”

ISIS may have thought that they would shake the faith of the Christians in the area; however, what has occurred is the exact opposite. Vatican Radio reported that Beshir Kamel, a brother of two of the Coptic martyrs, thanked the Islamic State for including their declaration of faith in the videos before killing them.

Completely absent from the 192-word statement from White House press secretary Josh Earnest condemning the brutal killings were the words “Christian,” “Coptic,” “Islam” or “Muslim.” For this, we say shame on the White House for its stubborn refusal to state the facts.

David Cameron, British Prime Minister, had the decency to state the truth: “I am appalled by the murder of Christians in Libya, a simply barbaric and inhumane act.” Why can’t our government have the honesty and decency to do the same?

These men were killed for one reason – they were part of the Nation of the Cross. It was not because they were Egyptian. They were slaughtered by these killers because they were Christian. These Copts were killed because they were followers of Jesus and that ISIS wanted to make the point that they are targeting for all Christians. This last statement is not made to scare readers or to rile up anti-Islamic feelings. It is a mere restatement of what ISIS said on its video. Rome is next, and ISIS, a group clearly motivated by a fanatical religious purpose, will not stop and does not want to dialogue with anyone. They only seek death and destruction to all who do not adhere to their fanatical version of Islam.

ISIS, in their video, recognized something that we don’t often do as Christians. We are members, yes, of our own nations, but more importantly, we are members of the “Nation of the Cross.” In our baptism, we are sealed with Christ in the deepest part of our souls. We belong to Him and He belongs to us, as our Lord, our God, our Savior, indeed our Sovereign King and Leader.

It’s time, then, for us to be fully awake about the threat of ISIS. It’s not just a political thing; it’s not just a Middle Eastern thing; it’s a clear and present danger to all those who believe in Jesus and to the entire free world. In the video, a ISIS murderer states: “Safety for you Crusaders is something you can only wish for.”

What can we do? First, pray for the families of these 21 men, for consolation and peace; pray for those Christians, and indeed all, who are being persecuted by the Islamic State.

Second, pray through the intercessions of these 21 men, all martyred for the faith; pray that we may not “endure the trial” as they did, but if we have to, we may have the same courage and dignity that they witnessed to the end.

Third, and finally, let your voice roar and rage at the atrocity that occurred to these men and the fact that some refuse to recognize the religious motivations behind these martyrdoms. The White House should state the real reason for these beheadings.

It’s the truthful thing to do.

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