Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Message of Love

"I was offered high government positions and asked to quit my struggle but I always refused to give up, even at the cost of my life. I do not want popularity; I do not want any position. I just want a place at Jesus' feet. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and indicate that I am following Jesus Christ. Because of this desire, I will consider myself most fortunate if -- in this effort and struggle to help the needy and the poor, to help the persecuted and victimized Christians of Pakistan -- Jesus Christ will accept the sacrifice of my life. I want to live for Christ and I want to die for Him."
These are the words of Shahbaz Bhatti, the well known Catholic Christian defender of minority religious rights in Pakistan. Indeed, he made that supreme sacrifice on March 2, 2011, when he was shot and killed by men who called themselves the "warriors of Islam." They issued a statement which included these words: 
" put a cursed Christian infidel Shahbaz Bhatti in charge of [the blasphemy laws review] committee. This is the fate of that cursed man." 
Though it is not my task to make the definitive judgment, it is certainly my opinion that these words express clearly the motivation that brought about his death. The Roman rite uses this term: "in odium fidei". It means "in hatred of the faith".

Bhatti was killed because he was considered a "cursed Christian infidel" who sought to defend the freedom of Christians to practice their faith, and also to defend the religious freedom of other non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan. He died defending the Church, and also the principles of justice, charity, and humanity.

And what was his response to this hatred and violence? He saw his destiny. He may be the first martyr to leave us a "video icon," a statement he made in this brief message, and that he wished to be made public in the event of his assassination, because "it is with the Muslim world I want to share the message of love. That is the only message that can bring the Muslim world out of the circle of hate and killings." During Holy Week, it is fitting to remember that in today's world, those who try to break the "circle of hate" are also being judged, condemned, murdered, and reviled as "cursed men." The victory of the Cross is visible in them today.

They bear "the message of love...."

Click the link to see the video, not the picture: