Christian martyrdom does not create death, but rather life.
Today’s readings can be found here.
Martyrs are not religious fanatics who die to prove something or punish someone. There is no fanaticism in true martyrdom, but rather exactly its opposite. There’s the humility of a seed that accepts death so that life may be more possible still:
“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
Christian martyrdom does not create death, but rather life. It’s a deeper “yes” to life that comes through the gift of oneself. In this sense, what St. Lawrence (whose feast we celebrate today) experienced in a bloody way on a gridiron is similar to what happens in so many of our homes where people give their lives for the sake of someone or something without necessarily needing to die physically.
What St. Lawrence experienced in a bloody way on a gridiron is similar to what happens in so many of our homes where people give their lives for the sake of someone or something without necessarily needing to die physically.
When a Christian is asked to renounce Christ, it’s not about simply renouncing some belief about values or some moral or theological principle. Rejecting Christ means rejecting everything that makes life truly possible.
How can you go on living if you no longer have the motivation that makes life worth living?
In this sense, in our day it’s difficult for us to understand the logic of martyrs because we’ve turned Jesus into a commendable belief or value, but he has ceased to be a person. No one who truly loves would be willing to deny the one they love. They would accept all kinds of consequences rather than betray him. But this is understood only by those who love. Others would consider it madness.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.