“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” ~ Tertullian
“I die the king’s good servant and God’s first” ~ St. Thomas More
“But not a hair of your head will perish” ~ Luke 21:18
In today’s Gospel (Luke 21:12-19), Jesus foreshadows the persecution that Christians will inevitably face before the end of the world, a persecution rooted in a “shoot the messenger” mentality and fueled by a vitriolic hatred for the truth.
Loyal disciples of Jesus Christ are certainly no stranger to residing squarely within the crosshairs of the world’s seemingly unending thirst for violence, perhaps due to large part to their underlying message, that of secular detachment and a keen understanding and anticipation of the fact that the old world is passing away, that a new world of love, nonviolence, and respect for life in all forms and at all stages is emerging. In a world that relishes the cheap thrills of fleeting pleasures, material wealth, dominance and power, the virtues of patience, perseverance, kindness and generosity are often viewed as being naive and weak, making those who practice and adhere to them easy marks and subsequently the next targeted victim. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that the twentieth century was the bloodiest on record; and the one with the most martyrs.
Those brave and faithful souls who died for their faith notwithstanding, I’d ask you to pause for a moment today and contemplate the notion of “bloodless martyrdom.” This term refers to those who have avoided rationalization, complacency and peer pressure in matters pertaining to their faith, those who remain true to each and every precept of the Church regardless of the repercussions such loyalty may reap in their workplaces, their social circles, perhaps even within their families.
How does one attain the crown of bloodless martyrdom? Once again, it would appear as though a detachment from the fleeting finite world is in order, instead fixing our eyes steadfastly on the world that will never end, living the Gospel boldly and confidently, with Jesus’ Resurrection serving as the limitless source of our strength.
“Dear Jesus, give us the wisdom and foresight to shun the things of this world and instead crave the things that are lasting, the things of eternity, your grace and your love. With these we will be rich and desire nothing” ~ Amen