Jesus said, «Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world keep it for everlasting life. Whoever wants to serve me, let him follow me and wherever I am, there shall my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him».
We are the children of God, a free God. It is in this freedom that we choose whatever we judge to be best for us. The world has taught us to choose life and avoid death.
Yet we know in our daily lives that death brings us into another life, a new life, like the death of childhood to adolescence, the death of adolescence to adult life. This is why, for us Christians, death is not the end, but a beginning of a new life with God, the God who loves us, and the God we love ourselves.
Therefore, to give our earthly life to the Author of life, is not necessarily a loss to the giver, but in truth a gain. All martyrs are aware of this truth and have given their lives generously for their faith.
Every martyr is well aware that the blood shed for Christ is worth a thousand years of life. They are well aware that their death mitigates the wrath of their oppressors and protects the faithful believers.
Although for the elites of Christ's time his death was a success, and his resurrection was a scandal for the pagans, history tells of the fulfillment of all prophecies and laws. All martyrs participate in and perpetuate this salvation story.
The silent and powerful divine accompaniment of the Father throughout Jesus' life, from the Incarnation to the Ascension, is fully felt and lived as their own by almost all who have given their lives for the Faith. Like Jesus, no one was sad to die for Christ. They gave their lives joyfully and peacefully, even if torture and pain did not allow them to cherish that peace and joy in tranquillity. Let us pray that God will grace us with the blessing of martyrdom.
Action of the day: Don’t be afraid of Death, because our God is alive.
«Whoever wants to serve me, let him follow me and wherever I am, there shall my servant be also»
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, the Church —through the liturgy of the Eucharist celebrating the feast of St. Lawrence, the roman martyr— reminds us that «there exists a testimony of coherence that all Christians must be willing to give, even at the cost of great sacrifice and suffering» (Saint John Paul II).
Moral law is saint and inviolable. This assertion, certainly contrasts with the relativistic environment abounding now a days, whereas we tend to easily adapting ethical demands to our personal comfort or to our own weaknesses. We shall certainly not find anyone admitting: —I am immoral; —I am unconscious; —I am a person without truth... Anyone admitting these facts would automatically and immediately disqualify himself.
The definite question would therefore be: what moral, what conscience and what truth are we talking about? It is evident that social peace and healthy coexistence cannot be based on a “moral à la carte”, where each one chooses his own way, without bearing in mind the inclinations and aspirations the Creator has set out for our nature. This “moral”, far from leading us trough the «paths of righteousness» towards the «green pastures» the Good Shepherd wants for us (cf. Ps 23:1-3), it would irremediably take us to the quicksand of the “moral relativism”, where absolutely everything can be debated, agreed upon and justified.
Martyrs are unappealable testimonies of the saintliness of the moral law: there are basic demands of love that accept neither exceptions nor adaptations. In fact, «in the New Covenant we can find numerous testimonies followers of Christ that (...) accepted persecutions and death before making the idolatrous gesture of burning incense before the statue of the Emperor» (Saint John Paul II).
In the Roman environment of emperor Valerian, the deacon «St. Lawrence loved Christ in life, and imitated Christ unto death» (St. Augustine). And, once again, we see confirmed that «the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life» (Jn 12:25). Luckily for us, the memory of St. Lawrence will perpetually remain as a signal that to follow Christ is worth offering our life rather than admitting frivolous interpretations of his path.