I wish a joyous and beautiful Paschal season to all those who are celebrating the Resurrection of Christ tonight.
In the year since I last extended Paschal greetings to Christian Jihad Watch readers, we have seen a sharp increase both in the Muslim persecution of Christians worldwide and in Muslims in the West claiming victimhood in order to deflect attention away from the global jihad and Islamic supremacism. The contrast, for anyone who is paying attention, is piquant: Muslims acting in the name of Allah murder Christians in Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere, and then complain in Western countries about things like not being able to wear hijab in violation of some company’s policy, or about someone saying rude things to them in a supermarket, and the like.
Whether you are a Christian or a believer in any other religion or no religion at all, this should concern you, and in fact does concern you. The victimhood game is part of a larger strategy. And so is the persecution of Christians, and the violence against Jews in Israel, and against unbelievers of various creeds and belief-systems worldwide. They are both part of a larger war that the Ayatollah Khomeini memorably articulated:
Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. . . . But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. . . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]”¦. Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur’anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.
With tonight beginning the celebration of Pascha, Easter, for Christians the Feast of Feasts, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is illuminating to contrast the spirit of Khomeini’s famous remarks with the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom, which will be read tonight in Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches. (A side note: I am not intending this as a blanket endorsement of everything Chrysostom ever said — in fact, I discussed some of his more problematic utterances at length in my book Religion of Peace?.)
If anything explains why Muslims are victimizing Christians throughout the world, and not the other way around, it is the difference between Khomeini’s words and Chrysostom’s. Khomeini’s repudiation of the “foolish souls” who reject Islamic jihad warfare manifests an understanding of Islam that looks with resentment and hatred at non-Muslims and wills to conquer and subjugate and kill them.
Chrysostom’s homily, by contrast, is expansive, generous, open-hearted, and otherworldly. And above all, it is hopeful. Death is robbed of its sting. Evil does not prevail forever. As the days get darker and freedom gets more precarious in the West, and Islamic supremacists (who revere Khomeini) grow ever bolder in the West, it is a good message for non-Christians as well as Christians: the boot on the face does not and cannot prevail indefinitely. Blades of grass inevitably grow through the concrete. Khomeini says that “whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword” and that “people cannot be made obedient except with the sword,” but ultimately people grow weary of being terrorized and throw off the tyrant’s chains. The human spirit cannot be enslaved indefinitely. And so even in these difficult days, there is hope: every time the Islamic supremacists advance, they simultaneously retreat, because more and more people wake up to what they’re doing and to the need to resist.
They are angered (angered!), increasingly angered, because they know they can’t continue to advance under cover of darkness. People are on to them. The fact that at least fourteen states have in the last few months begun considering anti-Sharia laws is a sign of this, and one that could not have been predicted just two or three years ago. The enemies of freedom are being exposed, and will soon be cast down, and they know it. They will lash out more furiously than ever as this effort is being completed, but it has begun.
And so here is St. John Chrysostom’s homily:
Let all pious men rejoice and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord, let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and he serves the first; He rewards the one and is generous to the other; He repays the deed and praises the effort.
Come, all of you: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the Fast and you who have not, rejoice today.
The table is richly laden; enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one; let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of His goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it; He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom; He has angered it by allowing it to taste of His flesh.
When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because it is frustrated. It is angered because it has been mocked. It is angered because it has been destroyed. It is angered because it has been reduced to naught. It is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and lo! It discovered God. It seized earth, and behold! It encountered heaven. It seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.
“O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” Christ is risen, and you are abolished! Christ is risen and the demons are cast down! Christ is risen and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen and life is freed! Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of its dead! For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the leader and reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.