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We know love is stronger than death

Thought for the weekend

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

In response to a further atrocity perpetrated by Isis against Coptic Christians in Egypt -the slaughter of 26 men, women and children who refused to deny Christ - Bishop Anba Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK, sent the following message:

"You are loved. The violent and deadly crimes you perpetrate are abhorrent and detestable, but you are loved. You are loved by God, your creator, for he created you in his image and according to his likeness, and placed you on this earth for much greater things, according to his plan for all humankind.

"You are loved by me and millions like me, not because of what you do, but what you are capable of as that wonderful creation of God, who has created us with a shared humanity. You are loved by me and millions like me because I, and we, believe in transformation".

At present, as Pope Francis has said, it is as if the whole world is at war - different to any type of conflict previously seen. Like an uncontainable wildfire, savage violence, orchestrated by merciless forces, flares up unpredictably: Manchester, Kabul, Paris, Istanbul. No one knows where next.

Bishop Angaelos, in the face of pitiless hatred directed against his community in Egypt, boldly and calmly declares the timeless truth at the heart of the Christian Gospel: "Love is stronger than death" (Song 8:8). His message is absolutely essential in the midst of the brutal suffering being visited upon so many families and communities throughout the world.

Telling those engaged in murderous campaigns against their fellow human beings 'you are loved', is nothing less than the proclamation of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ - the Tree of Life - that is irremovably planted, embedded, in the soil of our existence laid waste by sin and its consequences.

Through the cross, the transformative power of the grace of God has the possibility of changing, persuading, converting. Throughout our Christian history, there are a host of those who have turned away from being "vilest offenders", who have received from God a new heart and mind. One such, Saul of Tarsus, became Paul, the apostle whose mission changed the course of history.

We celebrate tomorrow, Pentecost, the first transformative outpouring of God's Holy Spirit on the Church.

God the Holy Spirit directly connects us to the heart of God the father with his son. The holy spirit locates us within the communion of infinite love that is the most holy trinity.

The spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11), the spirit of the father of glory resting upon Christ (I Peter 4:14), makes our hearts tabernacles of the divine presence.

Fortified thus, even our frail and vulnerable flesh knows that, despite the assaults of bullets, bombs and shrapnel, we are destined to be raised imperishable, victorious over death forever.

In that spirit, we dare to approach even the most deadly and dangerous persons, calling them to repent and be changed into love.

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