Friday, 29 August 2008

My Thoughts on the Bible Readings of the Day

Today's gospel reading is about martyrdom, specifically the martyrdom of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a martyr because he stood up for his faith- he saw an act against God's laws and didn't hesitate to condemn it publicly, even when the wrongdoers are Herod Antipas (ruler of Galilee and Perea) and his wife Herodias- and died because of it.

Martyrdom is the act of dying for one's faith. The Catholic Church considers martyrdom to be the greatest act of love. If a Christian is killed because he/she will not renounce their faith he/she immediately enters Heaven. Thus martyrdom can be considered a gift from God given to a select few. Think about it. There are many cases in the Bible about people who are imprisoned and in danger of being executed for not renouncing God, but not all of them were martyred. Consider the three friends of Daniel (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). They were thrown into a blazing furnace for not renouncing their God. Yet they were not martyred.

Do we contemporary Christians and Catholics consider martyrdom to be a gift from God? If people point a loaded gun to our heads and tell us to renounce Christ or die, do we rejoice? Or do we deep down in our hearts consider those martyred for their faith in Jesus to be unfortunate, even slightly foolish? How would we respond if God offers us the gift of martyrdom? Let us decide to accept this gift if God ever offers it to us. After all, it guarantees instant and immediate access to Heaven.

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