How long, O Lord
Last night having returned from the prayer vigil for the Martyrs of El-Botrosia Church, I was confronted with two images, starkly contrasting. The first which should bring about grief and heart ache, should make us weep in agony, the image of an unborn child laying amongst the rubble on the floor of the Church of St Peter and St Paul following the blast. This child who was blasted out of his mother’s womb because of this barbaric act. This son or daughter who was baptized in blood, the blood of martyrdom. Physically dead, spiritually alive.
Hence, I found myself comforted and contrary to how I thought I should feel, I felt the joy of knowing that he or she is in Heaven, amongst the company of the Angels and our fathers the saints and martyrs, before the Throne of God.
The second image was that of one of the sons and daughters of christ, standing amidst the ungodly, with colored lights in the background. An image that would normally reflect -according to this world - celebrations and festivities, an image that should bring about joy or happiness, certainly not! I couldn’t help my tears and couldn’t help the gut-wrenching pain that was rummaging in my heart. I spent the night unable to sleep as these images kept on replaying in the back of my mind. For it was the image of that which is Physically alive, yet spiritually …?
It was then that the verse from the Book of revelation started to ring in my ears “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the alter the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Rev 6:9-11. I thought to myself were they addressing the culprit, the terrorist that bought about their martyrdom, were they asking the Lord to avenge their blood from those that brought about their death? Their pain? Their torture? Their martyrdom??? Or is it us? those who are living in darkness and the shadow of death, those who because of their lukewarm faith, justify the ungodly living for themselves and join those of the world and practice that which David the prophet has forewarned us in his first Psalm ”Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;” Psalm 1:1. And the words of Hosea the prophet “Ephraim is joined to idols, Let him alone. Their drink is rebellion, They commit harlotry continually. Her rulers dearly[d] love dishonor. The wind has wrapped her up in its wings, And they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.” Hosea 4:17-19.
As the thoughts loomed, it became more and more apparent, that these tribulations are being witnessed by us to bring about a change in our lives, the blood of these Martyrs is a witness and a calling for us to escape the corruption of this world and its evil desires. “Adulterers and[a] adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15.
Christ has offered us life, even in death “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:3-4.
We have accessible to us a way by which we can overcome this world, St Paul reminds us in Romans “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2. To be transformed I must remove from my heart the desires of this world, and accept that I am not of this world, I am a stranger in this land, my home is in heaven and I can’t conform to those that surround me. But rather I need to be transformed to become a light to them to shine with the brightness of Christ and make his path visible to those who are blinded by the lusts and desires of this world. This transformation requires a commitment by me, a change of heart, a true repentance and rejection of the life I currently lead. “How long O Lord” is a question I need to remind myself with so that I stop delaying my transformation.