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June 21, 2020 Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time Homily

A martyr is one who gives his life for Christ and his Church.

In every age the Church has brought forth many martyrs – men, women, and children – who surrendered their lives rather than deny the Master.

These Christians chose to accept being thrown to the lions, crucified, beheaded, burned, frozen, starved, drowned, shot, hanged, and tortured to death in a multitude of ways. Especially in our own day there are many martyrs and Pope John Paul II spoke of the last century as being the ‘century of martyrs’. We all know well that Christians are being murdered today for their faith in Jesus.

The whole world admires a martyr.

Martyrdom is the ultimate gift of self.

Martyrdom is the ultimate proof of sincerity – a kind of ‘certificate of authenticity’. It is the ultimate testimony to the belief that there is a higher good than our own human life; that our own human life does not have a value higher than human integrity and, above all, the love and the will of God.

Martyrdom is the ultimate test of faith and, fortunately, we are not all called to make it. My favorite understanding of martyrdom is that it is really heroic submission to the truth.

However, heroic submission to the truth, which ends in death, does not usually begin there. A martyr is usually one who for many years has been actively and courageously living the truth day by day as we do on our journey of faith.

As the highest manifestation of faith martyrdom has to be ‘trained’ for.

The word martyr means witness – one who testifies by his death to a value or a truth, which is greater than his life. We need to remember that the driving force for martyrdom is always love – red-hot love! A martyr is one who can be said to be burning with love for Jesus Christ and his Church.

Jesus is the greatest martyr, the greatest witness. He lived the truth from the beginning of his life and ended by giving his life for it, the truth his Father sent him to bring to the world.

The moment of decision came for Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. It was night. He had suffered his dreadful agony and now stood with his Apostles who had fallen asleep. Judas and the cohort armed with swords and clubs arrived and Judas approached and kissed him.

Jesus stood his ground. Notice that? Jesus stood his ground. He didn’t run, he didn’t hide. He knew his moment had come – the moment of truth.

Judas stepped back and Jesus said: Who are you looking for?

Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus said I AM – the great I AM which God spoke to Moses when he asked God what his name was.

Jesus didn’t say, I don’t know him or ‘Oh, he went that way. If you hurry you might catch him.’ No!

Jesus said ‘Yes, I am he. I am the one you are looking for. Let these others go.’

The great moment of truth. Each one of us, without exception, has such moments of truth in our lives.

Are you a Catholic?

Do you believe in God? Do you worship Mary?

Do you reject contraception and abortion?

Do you believe it’s ok to live a gay lifestyle?

Do you believe its ok to live together without a sacrament of matrimony?

Do you believe women should be ordained priests?

A martyr is usually one who for many years has been actively and courageously living the truth day by day as we do on our journey of faith.

Martyrdom is the ultimate proof of sincerity – a kind of ‘certificate of authenticity’. It is the ultimate testimony to the belief that there is a higher good than our own human life; that our own human life does not have a value higher than human integrity and, above all, the love and the will of God.

I feel the necessity to say this  once awhile to parents when it comes to their role in the spiritual development of their children:

You Are The Parent.

When your child was baptized, you said you would take the lead in the spiritual and moral development of your children. This idea that you let your child decide if they are going to be involved in that development is a negligence of duty.

I would assume good parents don’t let their child decide whether or not they go to school.

I would assume good parents don’t let their child determine their diet.

I would assume good parents don’t let their children determine their bed times. I would imagine good parents don’t let their children determine whether or not the child wants to obey their parents.

I would imagine good parents don’t let their child determine a lot of necessary and important aspects in their child’s life.

Perhaps as the child gets older, more freedom is given to help the child decide… but to make good decisions.

Why on earth do we treat faith as if it is so personal and individual that the child decides whether they are going to participate in what builds their faith? Why would we let a child decide whether they go to RE or not or Mass? Catholicism isn’t a buffet of choices. It is way of life.

We do this and then wonder why the child grows up to treat faith and belief like a buffet that they stylize to what they want. We do this and teach our children rebellion against God.

My job as a pastor is to call the parents to live up to the commitment they made at their child’s baptism. They weren’t just words. They were a promise made to God.

 

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