Have we ever noticed how many saint-martyrs fill our Church calendar? We, Catholics, honor martyrs’ lives and celebrate their deaths with great appreciation for their courageous faith. We simply pray to them without giving much thought to the cost of their act of martyrdom. We forget that before they became martyrs, they were just regular people like you and me living ordinary lives. Then one day, from their ordinariness, they had to stand up for their faith. These martyrs- to be had to step up and witness for Christ in one swift moment, and they did. Have we that kind of strength, faith or courage? This question has to make us pause and ponder. Yet in a sense we are invited to be martyrs everyday. Each time we have to give time to another’s needs and put our lives on hold to help another we are martyrs. What makes this moment Christ-like is this. We realize Christ did the same for us when he lived among us, and continues doing it now with our heavenly Father.
Here is an example. Brent, a friend of mine, is a modern martyr. Every Wednesday night Brent does not go straight home from work. Instead, he goes to the Good Shepherd Hostel, a soup kitchen, near his parish. There he ladles soup, then sits down to eat with the homeless guests who come for dinner.
He knows their names and banters with them. It is as if Brent is dining with family or old friends. Around 9:30 after clean up he heads home. Instead of fretting about what he has to do to teach his morning classes, he whistles. Brent has shown love for the last three hours to those who need it. Brent has stood for Christ with these homeless folk. Giving this little piece of his life to his homeless friends, Brent is giving them life too. That’s modern day martyrdom. It brings Christ alive once more in others.
Now we know God’s love is big. It is more than we can understand-ever! Yet when we see love in action, Brent laughing and enjoying the company of homeless people, we see God’s love with new flesh and blood. Christ is alive again in our world. It’s a beautiful thing, we can all do wherever we live.
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus says: “everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father says the Lord.” When, like Brent, we find ways to allow God’s love to bloom around us, we are “doing the ordinary extraordinarily well!”