by Larry Peterson
On Palm Sunday, Christians the world over remember the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago. Riding on the back of a donkey, He was welcomed and praised as the Saviour and Messiah by people waving palms and laying palm fronds in front of Him. Five days later, many of these same people, suddenly bloated with an evil-induced hatred, scornfully screamed for him to be crucified. Jesus Christ changed the world forever. He was the ultimate example of LOVE and GOOD. He loved His brothers and sisters, no matter who they were. I guess that made Him a threat to many so they tortured and killed Him. As the centuries passed by, countless followers of LOVE and GOOD have met similar fates and this persecution and savagery continues unabated to this very day.
Only last week on April 7, Father Frans Van der Lugt, 75, was brutally beaten and shot to death in Syria. Why? He followed Jesus and loved his neighbor. Last November, North Korea executed 80 Christians. Why? They each had their own bible. As we travel back over the timeline of history Christian persecution is splattered all over it. Sister Maria Restituta was a nun and a nurse in Germany during World War II. She was guillotined in 1944. Why? Because she refused to take down a crucifix from a bedroom wall in a hospital. Father Otto Neururer was a Catholic priest who had the audacity to perform an “illegal” baptism. He was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp and, under the direction of Martin Summer, aka “The Hangman of Buchenwald”, was hanged upside down and left that way until he died. The Nazi era is littered with the corpses of not only millions of Jews, but also of Catholic/Christians whose main crime was usually helping their brother and sister Jews. When all is said and done their crime was always one of embracing what is LOVE and what is GOOD.
There are the Martyrs of Nagasaki, 26 men and boys, crucified in Japan on February 5, 1597. Why? They followed and preached LOVE and GOOD. Pope John Paul II canonized 25 martyred priests who had been murdered between 1927 and 1928 during the Cristero War in Mexico. During these dark days in Mexico thousands of others were also killed for following LOVE and GOOD. From Jesus Christ, to his apostles, to the early Christians being mauled to death in the Colosseum, to the Holocaust and onward to Father Frans Van der Lugt on April 7, 2014, the bloody war against LOVE and GOOD advances undeterred. Ironically, this war can never win its hate-filled quest to rid the world of its despised enemy.
I could go on and on because there have been so many, many people tortured and killed for following LOVE and GOOD that the stories would fill volumes. But there is one group of 16 followers of LOVE and GOOD that I must mention because I believe they saved a nation from its own self-destruction. Those 16 people are all women and are known as the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne. These women, holding hands and singing, willingly offered themselves to the guillotine if it could bring an end to the horrors of the French Revolution. One by one they smilingly went to their deaths. Under Maximilien Robespierre the bloodlust and hatred toward Catholics raged as the twisted virtues of the Age of Enlightenment and the Reign of Terror mixed their evil brew into a daily severing of heads before screaming mobs. Not this time. On July 17, 1794 that all ended.
The mob was gleefully screaming when the nuns were brought to the execution site. While holding hands the nuns began singing Salve Regina and Veni Creator Spiritus. Suddenly, the thousands of people present fell silent. The only sound to be heard was the thump of the guillotine as it went about it its impersonal savagery. When the executions were finished the witnessing mob had changed. Instead of cheers there were tears and sobs and heads hung low. People began to pray. Ten days later Robespierre was executed and the French Revolution and Reign of Terror ended. The evil was evaporated under the power of LOVE and GOOD. The 16 courageous nuns were beatified and declared “Blessed” in May of 1906 by Pope St. Pius X. Their canonization is pending. Talk about courage. Talk about LOVE. Talk about all that is GOOD. Theirs changed a nation.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very fulfillment of all that is LOVE and GOOD because GOD is LOVE and LOVE is GOD. The fact that His life and death changed the world forever seems to be passed over by many who think that part of the story is a mere fable. Well, for those who believe, no explanation is necessary and for those who do not, none is possible unless they open their minds and hearts and ask to see the unseeable. Then, they too will see. For all those who have given their very lives for this LOVE and for those who will in the future, theirs are the stories we should all honor and embrace. HAPPY EASTER & HAPPY PASSOVER
P.S. Question: How come no one was ever able to find the Body?