Pope: today there are more martyrs than at the beginning of the life of the Church, and they are everywhere

"Martyrs are those men and women who are faithful to the mild force of love, to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who in everyday life seek to help the brothers and to love God without reserve; they teach us that, with the power of love, with meekness, we can fight against arrogance, violence, war and peace can be achieved with patience".


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Learn to "live a full life, welcoming the martyrdom of daily fidelity to the Gospel": This is the warning addressed today by the Pope at the end of a general audience in which he emphasized the value and meaning of martyrdom and returned to remember that "today there are more martyrs than at the beginning of the life of the Church, and martyrs are everywhere".

Speaking to the 20 thousand people present in St. Peter's Square, Francis, continuing the cycle of catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, underlined the evil of the "darnel". "And what is the worst darnel that destroys a community? The weeds of murmuring, the tares of chattering ".

The Pope focused on the story of Stephen, one of the first seven deacons. " The Deacon in the Church isn’t a second class priest, he is something else; he isn’t for the altar, but for service. He is the custodian of service in the Church. When a Deacon likes to go to the altar too much, he is mistaken. This isn’t his way. This harmony between service to the Word and service to charity represents the leaven that makes the ecclesial body grow".

 “Stephen evangelizes with force and parrhesia, but his word meets with the most obstinate resistance. Not finding another way to make him desist, what do his adversaries do? They chose the most wretched solution to annihilate a human being: namely, calumny and false testimony. And you know that calumny always kills. This “diabolical cancer,” which is born of the will to destroy a person’s reputation, also attacks the rest of the ecclesial body and damages it gravely when, because of petty interests or to cover one’s own failures there is a coalition to smear someone."

"Taken to the Sanhedrin and accused by false testimonies — they did the same with Jesus and they do the same with all the martyrs through false testimonies and calumnies — to defend himself, Stephen proclaims a rereading of sacred history centered in Christ. And the Easter of Jesus dead and risen is the key of the whole history of the Covenant. In face of this superabundance of the divine gift, Stephen courageously denounces the hypocrisy with which the prophets and Christ Himself were treated. And he reminds them of the history, saying: “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered” (Acts 7:52). He doesn’t mince words, but speaks clearly, says the truth.”.

" This caused the violent reactions of the listeners, and Stephen was condemned to death, condemned to stoning. He, however, manifests the true “fabric” of the disciple of Christ. He doesn’t seek ways to escape, he doesn’t appeal to personalities who could save him but puts his life in the Lord’s hands, and Stephen’s prayer is very beautiful, at that moment: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59) — and he dies as a son of God, forgiving: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). These words of Stephen teach us that it’s not good speeches that reveal our identity as children of God, but only the abandonment of our life in the Father’s hands, and forgiveness of the one who offends us, which makes the quality of our faith seen."

"The martyrs - he added in greeting to the Arab faithful - are those men and women faithful to the mild force of love, to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who in everyday life try to help the brothers and to love God without reserve; they teach us that, with the power of love, with meekness, we can fight against arrogance, violence, war and peace can be achieved with patience ".

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