Nero did not understand it. Diocletian did not understand it.
God’s greatest love is unleashed into creation through martyrdom.
When a believer in Jesus Christ surrenders his life in death for witness of Christ, suddenly and immediately the power of the crucified Lord enters into the world.
Two “citizens” of the Islamic State beheaded the 86-year-old priest Father Jacques Hamel. Like Nero and Diocletian, the Islamic State does not comprehend the power they are fighting.
Rome molested the Church. And Rome was overcome through martyrdom. Islam has been molesting Christianity for 1,400 years. And Islam will be defeated through martyrdom. It’s easy to day, but the difficult questions are these:
- Do I believe that God would give me the grace to die as faithfully as a martyr?
- Would I be willing for my children to demonstrate the witness of a martyr in the future?
- Would I rejoice to be a martyr as so many thousands of martyrs have in previous centuries?
It is helpful to remember that from AD 60 till AD 313, receiving sacramental baptism meant that you were enrolled for martyrdom. Every parish and every diocese on the planet during those years could name martyrs from their midst. Every Christian community possessed martyrs: Jerusalem, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Carthage, Lyons, etc.
Martyrdom was so common that Christianity underwent a crisis of identity after Constantine legalized Christianity: Can Christians truly be Christian without the reality of impending martyrdom?
The monastic revolution of the 4th and 5th centuries was a response to this identity crisis – the monastics sought to regain the danger and asceticism of carrying the cross.
For me personally, this is a moment of personal crisis. I wrote books about Christ. I record podcasts and videos about Christ. I talk about Christ frequently. But am I ready for this to happen to me:
…two Islamic State knifemen who cut the priest’s throat after bursting into a French church and taking nuns and worshippers hostage before being shot dead by police.
Question: What about you? Do you feel ready? What if it comes to this in the West? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Father Jacques Hamel, pray for us.