Martyrdom is often referred to as a strictly Christian concept, but in the books of Maccabees we hear of countless martyrs: men and women who would rather let their lives be taken than betray their faith in God. The first few chapters of 1 Maccabees describe horrendous martyrdoms and desecrations of the temple in Jerusalem as well as other towns in Israel. Today’s first reading describes the triumphal rededication of the temple. In my mind it conjures up a scene of all the saints in heaven rejoicing over the triumph of Christ’s Kingdom.
Testimony of Life
Like the martyrs of Maccabees, the Vietnamese martyrs have left us with their testimony. The reading today invites us not to linger in their suffering, but to rejoice in their heavenly triumph. Christ’s Kingdom has come through them! Whenever we pray the Our Father, we invite His Kingdom to come. Whenever we give testimony to our faith, His Kingdom comes through our lives. Whenever we say no to temptation and yes to virtue: choose forgiveness instead of revenge, choose kindness instead of indifference or cruelty, repentance over despair, then we are letting Christ reign in our hearts. His Kingdom comes to us, and we testify to it with our lives.
Praising His Glorious Name
The psalm response also reflects the consequences of testimony of holy life: the consequence is the praise of God’s glory! He cannot help but be praised with this testimony of holiness because it is offered entirely for Him. Whether by life or by death, a person striving for holiness of life gives praise to God. Just like today’s readings, today’s saints invite us to give this praise. May our prayer today echo the psalm, “We praise your glorious name, O mighty God!”