A few days ago I couldn’t help thinking that our time, which is presumably secular, has resembled the time of those great martyrs of the early days of our Church again. An 84-year-old priest, Father Jacques Hamel was martyred in a French town, while celebrating a morning Mass. When he went to the local church to celebrate the Eucharist he didn’t know that he would join the priests of the past, like St Thomas Beckett or Blessed Oscar Romero, who during the Sacrifice of Mass sacrificed their very life for God’s glory and for salvation of the souls.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The blood of Fr Jacques which soaked the floor of the church where he served like the blood of St Polycarp was the culmination of their long and dedicated ministry to God and God’s people. For many years, day after day, they were choosing Christ by giving themselves for spreading of the Gospel. As St Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth.” Those two elderly priests chose Christ not only when they accepted martyrdom but every day when they chose to serve God and God’s people. In recent days many people have expressed their solidarity with the church community where Fr Jacques ministered because they were impacted by the killing but the life and death of that priest is a song about faithfulness and commitment. St Paul in the same passage we heard at this Mass reminded us: “You have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God.” I believe that the recent martyrdom of Fr Jacques, that his martyr’s blood, will be like a rain to fall on our daily life, which most of the time is hidden like the life and ministry of that priest was hidden, discreet. However in this hidden and discreet daily life God’s glory is revealed too by our faithfulness and commitment to God and to those whom God has placed in our life.
Let me finish with the prayer St Polycarp prayed when he was tied up to be burnt: “Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in your presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."
May we strive to live this prayer every day so that every day God may be glorified by our faithfulness and commitment to the vocation He has given us.