Today we are keeping Red Wednesday at St Thomas Parish.
At 6:30pm tonight we are shining red light on the front of the church to remember those Christians who suffer harassment or persecution throughout the world. According to the charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) website, 340 million Christians suffer harassment or persecution.
ACN research is showing that Christian persecution is most sharply on the rise in South and East Asia, in countries like Myanmar, India, Pakistan, China and North Korea.
Today the charity is launching a report ‘Hear Her Cries: The kidnapping, forced conversion and sexual victimisation of Christian women and girls’, which investigates the global problem of women targeted because of their faith.
Rehman Chishti, a Conservative MP who recently completed a marathon for ACN, underlined the UK government’s commitment to preventing sexual violence and empowering women, and emphasised the progress made in fulfilling the recommendations of the Truro Review into foreign office support for persecuted Christians.
He said, “It is absolutely crucial that the UK and international partners work together through multilateral fora to do all they can to address this.”
In the gospel read at Mass today we hear Jesus say,
“Men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.”
Let us pray for all those who are suffering because of the their faith.
Loving Lord, who in your inscrutable providence will that the Church be united to the sufferings of your Son, grant we pray, to your faithful who suffer for your name’s sake a spirit of patience and charity, that they may be found true and faith witnesses to the promises you have made