THE SERVANT GENERAL
BEING A MARTYR
of St. Stephen
December 26, 2016
We are called to be holy warriors. We are evangelizers and
missionaries. We are witnesses to Jesus. To be a witness is
to be a martyr. The word “martyr” comes from the
Greek word , mártys, which means “witness.”
To be a committed witness is also to court martyrdom.
was the fate, or destiny, of Stephen, the first martyr. He
testified to Jesus. He spoke boldly about the hard-heartedness
of God’s people. They stoned him to death (Acts 7:58a).
did warn his apostles about coming persecutions. “But
beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and
scourge you in their synagogues.” (Mt 10:17). What then
is a holy warrior to do? Cower? Back down? Slink away? No.
That is precisely the opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
Jesus says “you will be led before governors and kings
for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.”
persecution will not just come from secular authorities that
are opposed to the faith. It will also come from the enemy
within. “Brother will hand over brother to death”
(Mt 10:21a). We see this all the time in community and in
the Church, where Judases abound. Well, it was the case with
Jesus the Master, so why not with us? In fact, such persecution
will come from everyone in the world, everyone who is not
a holy warrior. “You will be hated by all because of
my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
do holy warriors endure and persevere?
trust in God and in His saving help. “In you, Lord,
I take refuge; .... incline your ear to me; make haste to
rescue me! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me.”
(Ps 31:2a,3). A holy warrior knows the warrior-God that he
serves. “For you are my rock and my fortress”
(Ps 31:4a). A holy warrior knows that his battle is the Lord’s
battle. “You hate those who serve worthless idols, but
I trust in the Lord.” (Ps 31:7).
however God acts, we rejoice, knowing that our merciful God
has our backs and He works for our good. “I will rejoice
and be glad in your mercy, once you have seen my misery, and
gotten to know the distress of my soul.” (Ps 31:8).
Because we trust our God, we leave our fate in His hands.
If He delivers us, great. If He allows us to continue to suffer,
and even to suffer death, great too, since He has a better
plan. Just know He is there for us. “You will not abandon
me into enemy hands, but will set my feet in a free and open
space.” (Ps 31:9). Perhaps that free and open space
will already be heaven. Indeed, the ultimate salvation is
when we make it to heaven. “Let your face shine on your
servant; save me in your mercy.” (Ps 31:17).
warriors, shout out your battle cries and hymns: “How
great is your goodness, Lord, stored up for those who fear
you. You display it for those who trust you” (Ps 31:20a).
And as you plunge into battle, know who your protector is.
“You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe
from scheming enemies.” (Ps 31:21a).