In these last years as we have heard, seen, and read the stories of Christians martyred across the world something interesting seems to be happening. The stories are being covered by all kinds of media across the spectrum of the Christian world and basically all of it speaks of these martyrs as Christians regardless of the particular label. The usual rhetoric that divides us has given way, in some ways, to an understanding that we have a unity, if not in doctrine at least in blood.
Of course we identify the people who are killed by their community, still there also seems to be a shared sense of commonality among all of us in the observant Christian community for the fate of these people and a realization of some sense of kinship in the growing sense that we, too, whatever out particular communion, could be one day the people in the cross hairs of some effort to eliminate us. If our shared faith doesn’t bind us our potential shared fate could.
My community is Orthodox and yet we have commemorated in our prayers of the Great Entrance the Catholic nuns who were murdered in Yemen not as “Papist Heretics” but as those who were killed for their faith in Christ. No, they won’t be officially listed on the “rolls” as it were of martyrs and if and when the Roman Catholic church recognizes their sainthood our recognition will wait until some far off council where, if it were possible, some kind of union between the Catholic and Orthodox communions could happen. I’m not holding my breath on that one but until then I can at least recognize that these nuns, and so many others like them, have served Christ to the end and that sacrifice can be something that binds us together, a shared experience, a shared threat even, that helps us to see the faith in the other, the reality of Christ in the other, in ways that comfort and ease have not.