Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Today’s first reading tells the story of the death of the Church’s first Martyr, St. Stephan.  In doing so, we are providing with an opportunity to reflect on martyrdom and the wider idea of suffering for the faith. The death of any martyr should give us the opportunity to reflect seriously on several issues. The first is the recognition that dying for a specific cause does not give merit to the cause.  Briefly, just because someone is willing to die for an idea does not make the idea correct. Sometimes we are fooled by fervor, whether by the extremes of martyrdom or by someone who spends their life promoting any given project. Enthusiasm, on its own, does not deliver nor does it equate the truth. The second idea is that martyrdom establishes the fact that there are somethings for which people make supreme sacrifices, including their very lives.  This recollection of martyrdom, therefore, provides us with an opportunity to identify those values in our lives for which we are sacrificing ourselves and our resources that perhaps do not merit this attention. Likewise, the existence of martyrs like St. Stephan asks of us what values do we have for which we would make tremendous sacrifices.  Underlying the story in today’s epistle lies the fundamental question of asking ourselves the nature of our fundamental values and what we do to advance them.

May 2nd, 2017