Monday, July 11, 2011

when facing darkness

Yesterday we remembered St. Joseph of Damascus. His life story is wonderful, but it was the story of his final days that I keep coming back to.

The year is 1860. Conflict in what is now Lebanon and Syria comes to a head and erupts into a wholesale massacre with Christians as the target. Saint Joseph knows the mobs are marching towards Damascus, killing Christians and burning churches, both Catholic and Orthodox.

What do you do when great evil is coming? When the darkness surrounds?
Following the tradition of the priests in Damascus, Father Joseph used to keep the Communion kit at his house. During the massacre of 1860 he hid his communion kit under his sleeves, and went jumping from one roof to another toward the Cathedral. He spent the whole night strengthening and encouraging the Christians
When faced with darkness, we hold onto the Light of the World. When death seems imminent, we receive the Life. It is crazy, but we don't run, we face what comes with hope and faith.
As he walked on the streets, a religious scholar-, who was one of the attackers, recognized Joseph, because the latter had confuted him in a debate between them. Seeing him he shouted: "This is the leader- of Christians. If we kill him, we will kill all the Christians!" When he heard these words, Father Joseph knew that his end had come. He took out his communion kit, and partook of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
I will spare you the details of the end of St. Joseph's life. It is not reading for the faint hearted.

A little girl at our church is facing another round of chemo and a transplant. For such a young one to suffer so is just unimaginable. Yet here it is, as real as the history of St. Joseph. And what do we do when faced with such pain? As Christians, we take the Light of Christ with us and go in the darkest of places. We know that the love of God conquered death. We can walk with this family in the most fearful of places and know that Christ is walking with us.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this Monica. I recently finished William Dalrymple's book concerning the history of Christian communities in the Middle East and their current plight. This posting was like a spiritual footnote to that.