I haven’t been a Christian for all that long and so this hasn’t ever crossed my mind before, that is until I met an Iraqi Catholic at my University.
His name is Sayed Leo, he’s only 19 years old. He’s been shot 5 times in his life (so far), every time for “being a Christian in the wrong place at the wrong time”; three of these occasions resting squarely on Iraqi police culpability. His brother was murdered for converting to Islam under duress and subsequently practicing his Catholicism secretly. His sister was kidnapped when she was 12 and the family hasn’t seen her since. His father is in a Jordanian jail for “facilitating the conversion of a Muslim to Christianity”, presumably indefinitely. Given everything he has been through, it would seem obviously understandable if he were to abandon his faith for the sake of his safety (even though he is currently studying in the US), yet I haven’t yet experienced an American Catholic who could match him on piety and devotion.
His example got me thinking: Am I currently in a spiritual state ready for martyrdom if it were to arise? If my life hung in the balance, would I stand up and face what may, or would I cower and hide? Could I remain so optimistic and happy while facing probable doom?
Sadly, I don’t yet know the answers to these questions.
I asked Sayed how he is able to live life with such content and ease knowing that at any minute one of his family members might be killed, or that as soon as he returns to the Middle East he might himself suffer that 6th shot that ends his life. How is it that he can remain so utterly faithful and completely divorce himself from the objective reality that his faith might get him killed?
This is what he said:
“Don’t think I’m blind brother. I know what is possible and I indeed fear what is probable. Turning your back on God or the Church due to what such an affiliation might cause is, however, as equally stupid as yelling at one’s car due to getting a traffic citation or forsaking one’s family due to the family’s reputation. You are a member of that family, and no one could say that they would be the same person without such an affiliation. Just as I am my mother’s son both during the good and bad times, so too am I a member of Christ’s body for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Remember brother that it’s no coincidence that Christ calls us his bride. The spotless lamb gave his life for me and you, and my family that is suffering. Who am I to shirk responsibility when it is my turn to repay?”
This man lives every day of his life ready to die as if such were the default, yet is thankful for every extra minute God gives him. I wonder fellow CAF posters, are you in such a state? Could you, if put in the proper circumstance, give your life for the faith? Do you take advantage of the moments God gives you like my friend Sayed does?