Martyrdom, the acceptance of death rather than the repudiation of one’s faith and beliefs, has a long history in the Catholic Church and other churches and religious faiths. Today’s first reading offers us the incredible example of a Jewish mother. She encourages and exhorts her seven sons to undergo torture and death rather than eat the pork offered by the evil Antiochus. The Scriptures tell us that she was “most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance… because of her hope in the Lord.”
Pope Francis is quoted as stating that there have been more martyrs for the faith in the 20th century than there were in the first three centuries. There have been wars of aggression and genocidal pogroms in Germany, Russia, Armenia, revolutions, and counter-revolutions, with thousands killed in Spain, Mexico, Central, South America, Africa, China, the Philippines, in Korea, and beyond. So many of the deaths of millions were religiously or ethnically targeted.
In recent times so many men and women were targeted because they stood up against injustice and oppression of the poor. Several years ago, I spent some time in El Salvador during which I visited the spot where Fr. Rutillio Grande was murdered, the church in which Archbishop Romero was shot, the garden in which the six Jesuits and their two housekeepers were brutally murdered, and the place where four American church women were raped and shot. It was a profoundly moving experience. They paid the cost of standing with the poor.
They were fed daily by the Eucharist, and each day they heard the words of the consecration, “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood poured out for you. Do this in memory of me.” They took Jesus at his word and allowed themselves to be broken and poured out. We are called to do the same.
Let Us Pray:
Jesus, you offered yourself on the cross for us, and you called us to help realize the reign of God in our time and place. Give us the courage to be broken in our efforts to stop racism, welcome refugees, and care for the poor and the marginalized, for we know that, in the word of Pope Francis, they truly are mobile monstrances, your real presence among them us. Amen.
Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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