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Archive for June 23rd, 2012

In the Two Year Dailty Lectionary, the Gospel Lesson for today is St. John 20: 1-18, the narrative of the Resurrection. Pr. Scott Murray, has another cogent reflection, this one on the reality of the Resurrection in the historical life of the Church, which includes the persecuted Church from his A Year with the Church Fathers:  Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year. Then I have an additional reflection.

Meditation
Christianity stands or falls on the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. If there is no resurrection, neither the life nor the truth of the faith survive.

The faith that disbelieves the resurrection of Christ is of no value when the gun is put to your head and the question is asked, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Christian martyrs confessed that Christ was Lord and God when faced with death, rather than fail to confess the living Lord. Who in his right mind dies a literal death for a mythical faith? If Christ’s resurrection is a myth, then I might be excused for declining to die a very literal martyr’s death. A mythical martyrdom is the only one called for by a mythical faith. Yet uncounted thousands with joy embraced the tools of slaughter when brought to the arena, and thanked the living Lord for the privilege of dying for the sake of the name of Christ. If I have a living Lord, what is the worst that my enemies can do to me? Send me home to live with Him. What is the downside to this proposition? Cynical mythologization never survives faithful martyrdom.

All the apostles, save John, died a martyr’s death. Why? Because they had seen the risen Lord. The apostle Paul proclaims the truth of his Gospel and proclamation because the risen Lord stands behind it, bringing to fulfillment the Word. This same Lord still reigns in His Church through His Word. We are not left alone in a world of oppressive mythologies. He is still the living Lord who triumphed for our sakes. He lives that we would live. So live!

Post-script:  Someone could point out that radical Islam too has it’s martyrs, they are willing to die for their “real” faith”, and many think a martyr is a martyr.  First in radical Islam, martyrdom is actually willful and active  suicide, accompanied by the death of others. In Christianity, the Christian martyrs were killed to expel them from body politic.  It was a passive act.

Second, in Islam in general, it is taught that one so martyred assures himself of a place in heaven by his work of death.  Not so Christians:  we do not believe that by so being martyred, we assure ourselves of heaven.  We are given the hope of the life to come, not by what we do, but by what Jesus Christ has done in His death and Resurrection, that is the forgiveness of sin, justification by faith.  Eternal life is gift, never a work.

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