Martyrs for God

– Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and his Companions, Martyrs –

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

[Editor’s note: today’s passage is taken from one of the optional readings given in the Common of Martyrs]

Today the Church recalls the martyrs of Vietnam who, over the centuries since 1659, have gone to their death rather than denying their faith in Jesus.

The international charity, Aid to the Church in Need, encourages Catholics around the world to pray today in solidarity with Christians who are still persecuted and oppressed for their religious beliefs in our time. This day is known as Red Wednesday as cathedrals, churches and public buildings around the world will light up in red to show this solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Christ. The Cathedral of St Stephen will participate in this event: all Masses today will be offered for persecuted Christians and this evening the Cathedral will be flooded in red as a sign of the blood of the martyrs.

While today we stand with persecuted Christians, we examine our own stance before God and each other. In what way do you, do I, deny Jesus? It’s a confronting question. Do we leave our faith in the personal sphere of our lives, speaking about our beliefs only among those who share our faith? Or do we, when the opportunity presents itself, speak openly about our conviction of God’s love known through our relationship with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit? I’m pretty sure that I and everyone who is reading this, will not be martyred today because of our faith, yet I am equally sure that our daily witness to Jesus will be called upon. Our words need to be simple and clear, and our words need to be reflected in our actions of service, love, and forgiveness.

by Kari Hatherell

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