Thought of the day
Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday of the Fourth week in Ordinary Time
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John the Baptist, witness of faith

Commentary of the day
Blessed John-Paul II, Pope from 1978 to 2005
Apostolic Exhortation « Ecclesia in Europa » §13 (trans. © copyright Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

John the Baptist, witness of faith

I want to point out to everyone, so that it will never be forgotten, that great sign of hope represented by the many witnesses to the Christian faith who lived in the last century, in both East and West. They found suitable ways to proclaim the Gospel amid situations of hostility and persecution, often even making the supreme sacrifice by shedding their blood.

These witnesses, and particularly those who suffered martyrdom, are an eloquent and magnificent sign which we are called to contemplate and to imitate. They show us the vitality of the Church; they stand before us as a light for the Church and for humanity because they caused the light of Christ to shine in the darkness; to the extent that they came from different religious traditions, they also shine forth as a sign of hope for the journey of ecumenism, in the certainty that their blood is also a vital source of unity for the Church.

Even more radically, they tell us that martyrdom is the supreme incarnation of the Gospel of hope: In this way, martyrs proclaim the Gospel of hope and bear witnesses to it with their lives to the point of shedding their blood, because they are certain that they cannot live without Christ and are ready to die for him in the conviction that Jesus is the Lord and the Saviour of humanity and that, therefore, only in him does mankind find true fullness of life. According to the exhortation of the Apostle Peter, their example shown them ready “to give reason for the hope that is in them” (cf. 1 Pt 3,15).

Furthermore, martyrs celebrate the Gospel of hope because the offering of their lives is the greatest manifestation of the “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which constitutes true spiritual worship” (cf. Rom 12:1), and the source, soul and summit of every Christian celebration. Finally, martyrs serve the Gospel of hope, because they express in their martyrdom a love and service of humanity to a high degree insofar as they demonstrate that obedience to the law of the Gospel begets a moral and societal life which honours and promotes the dignity and freedom of every person.    
Source: © 2001-2014

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