It may unsettle many to discover that Christians are the most likely people the world over to experience persecution. Since the foundation of the faith the faithful have been subject to official and unofficial harassment; being hunted down, tortured and executed for the proclamation of their faith. Christianity was born into bigotry and suffering. On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus’ entry into the city of Jerusalem where he would be betrayed by one of his followers, handed over to the Jewish authorities, and delivered to the Roman procurator to face the death penalty. In the first few centuries after the resurrection, as members of an illegal religion, Christians were subject to legal persecution and execution within the Roman Empire.

It is ignorance in the extreme that many, hiding behind the holiness of our ancient faith, use their Christianity as a weapon to abuse others and deny them their rights. The God of the Christians is the God who is Love. Love does not discriminate between gay and straight, between men or women – it simply and wonderfully loves. Yet this great conflict we are living through at the moment is arming those who truly and deeply despise us and our faith. During Holy Week, the most sanctified time in our religious calendar, Christians will continue to be persecuted around the world. Here in Ireland we will be called paedophiles, misogynists, and reactionaries. Christians will be bullied at school and at work. In Africa they will be shot on the beaches of Somalia, and slashed to pieces by machetes in Southern Nigeria. In China they will be forced to abort their children. In Dublin they will be spat on in the streets.

Our world is a world governed by malice and greed. It is a world saturated by a culture of avarice and hedonism that will not tolerate those who will not be complicate. We will be targeted not merely because we speak out, but also because we do not agree with the desire of the many. This present darkness hates us and seeks our destruction because it wants no witnesses. Through this week, this Holy Week, we will remember the death of Christ, and his rising. We too will rise.


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