The pictures and reports from Cairo following yesterday’s attack on St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral draw us into the horror of those events. Our prayers at Southwark Cathedral are once more with our Coptic sisters and brothers. I was looking for something else in the Bible and my eye fell on this passage. It spoke to me of the strength of women who with their children were so callously targeted in this attack, who face the wintry storm.
O mother of the nation, vindicator of the law and champion of religion, who carried away the prize of the contest in your heart! O more noble than males in steadfastness, and more courageous than men in endurance! Just as Noah’s ark, carrying the world in the universal flood, stoutly endured the waves, so you, O guardian of the law, overwhelmed from every side by the flood of your emotions and the violent winds, the torture of your sons, endured nobly and withstood the wintry storms that assail religion. (4 Maccabees 15.29-32)