“Follow Me”


Christian de Cherge and Companions Trappist Martyrs of Algeria (1996)

JOHN 21:15-19

. . .and then he commanded: “Follow me!”

On May 23, 1996, Islamic fundamentalists in Algeria gleefully announced the murder of seven Trappist monks.  In their deaths these monks joined a procession of past victims–both Christian and Muslim–sacrificed to the competing conceptions of the glory of God.

Many Christian martyrs had offered their lives for the conversion of their non-Christian neighbors.  But these monks differed for they sought to bear witness to “the One God of all and to the ideal of friendship among all God’s people.”

They lived simple lives, hated by some, loved by others, but Fr. De Cherge said: “The only way for us to give witness is.. . .to be what we are in the midst of banal, everyday realities.” 

In a letter opened after his death were these words, “You too, my last minute friend, you who know not what you do. .May be we granted to meet each other again, happy thieves, in paradise, should it please God, the Father of both of us.”

All of us are “thieves” in God’s eyes, and in that light let us meet each other in on the common ground of the love of God, however we may experience God.  On that common ground we will find God’s mercy, and we will find our love of neighbor where we can respect each other.  For the one thing I know is that we are all sinners, all thieves, and have no right to bring judgment on each other.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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