Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Lent

Let Your Life Be The Pure Gospel     

What touched me most was the testimony of a mother in Qaraqosh,” Pope Francis said last Monday, on his flight returning home after visiting the ISIS destructions of Christian centres in Iraq.  Pope Francis met Doha Sabah Abdallah, the mother who lost her son, in the Syriac Catholic Immaculate Conception Church in Qaraqosh which was occupied by ISIS from 2014 to 2016.

Abdallah shared the story with the pope and those gathered in the church of the bombing of the town in August 2014 that killed her son, his cousin, and a young neighbour.  “Our strength undoubtedly comes from our faith in the Resurrection, a source of hope.  My faith tells me that my children are in the arms of Jesus Christ our Lord.  And we, the survivors, try to forgive the aggressor, because our Master Jesus has forgiven his executioners.  By imitating him in our sufferings, we testify that love is stronger than everything.” the woman said.

Doha Abdallah, who experienced the atrocities of ISIS lifted up her loss and passion on the cross of Jesus with him.  Just as Jesus, hanging on the Cross, forgave his persecutors by saying, “they do not know what they are doing” this woman of faith also could say’ “I forgive.

The Israelites wandering in Sinai were terrified by the poisonous snakes that killed many of them.  As per God’s direction Moses made a bronze snake as a remedy.  Looking at the bronze snake was therapeutic for them.  The faith in the providence of God saved the people from the disaster of snake bite as they looked at the bronze snake on the stake.  John reflects on the death of Jesus on the Cross and sees a similar happening.  “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

People of faith have the ability to lift their sufferings, persecutions, and their failures with Jesus on the stake of the Holy Cross.  It is your faith in Jesus and your strength to forgive your enemies that helps you to turn the evils in your life into life giving grace.

Reflecting on the story of great witness by Doha Abdallah Pope Francis said: “I forgive.  This is a word we have lost.  We know how to insult big time.  We know how to condemn in a big way … But to forgive, to forgive one’s enemies.  This is the pure Gospel.  This hit me in Qaraqosh.”

In this Lent, do not give in to vengeance, retribution and insult.  Look at Jesus on the Cross who forgave his persecutors, making your life a saving act for yourself and for others.  Let your life be the pure Gospel in a world in need of it.