Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 21,12-19

'But before all this happens, you will be seized and persecuted; you will be handed over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and brought before kings and governors for the sake of my name -and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Make up your minds not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated universally on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your perseverance will win you your lives.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This page of the Gospel brings to mind tragedies, wars, genocides, incredible violence, hunger and pandemics that continue to happen still today. Furthermore still today witnesses to the Gospel continue to be killed. The number of martyrs among all Christian confessions and other religions who died in the 20th century was incredibly high. Even at the beginning of this new millennium, not few Christians continue to be killed for courageously witnessing to their faith. All these victims of violence are in front of our eyes as very precious witnesses. And they entrust us with a precious heritage of faith to protect and to imitate while we are almost deafened and weakened by a culture that drives us more and more to be slaves of materialism and consumerism for our individual wellbeing. With their own lives, they tell us that the Gospel of love is the most precious treasure which has been given to us, and that it is the strongest and most effective witness we can give to men and women today. With its terrible and cruel violence, evil believed it could defeat them, but, with their sacrifice, their blood, their resistance to evil, they continue to help us conquer evil with love and faithfulness to the Lord. This message does not diminish with time; truly not even one of the hair on their story of love is lessened. Their witness drives us to immerse ourselves, together with them, in this movement of love that saves us and the world. In the homily given in front of the corpse of a priest murdered by the killing squads, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero said that the Lord calls all Christians to be martyrs, that is "to give life." We receive life not to keep it for ourselves and for our concerns, but to offer it in favour of everyone, particularly for the poorest. The Lord accompanies us as he accompanied them, and will sustain us with his strength even when, because of the Gospel, those who are closest to us -Jesus speaks of parents, brothers, relatives and friends -can betray us. Perseverance in love will save our lives.