If we have to be realistic about our Christian life, we should prepare ourselves for possible martyrdom anytime and even for the flimsiest of reasons. What happened to St. John the Baptist, who tried his best to be most faithful to his vocation, (cfr. Mk 6,14-29) can happen to us. Of course, the epitome of all this is none other than Christ himself.
In this regard, we have to learn to lose the fear of suffering and death. If we believe in Christ and follow what he has taught and shown us, we will realize that there is nothing to be afraid of suffering and death, and all the other negative things that can mark our life.
He bore them himself and converted them into our way for our own salvation. Yes, even death which is the ultimate evil that can befall us, an evil that is humanly insoluble. With Christ’s death, the curse of death has been removed. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15,54-55)
So, we just have to be sport and cool about the whole reality of suffering and death. What we need to do is to follow Christ in his attitude toward them. For Christ, embracing suffering and ultimately death, is the expression of his greatest love for us. We have to enter into the dynamic of this divine logic and wisdom so we can lose that fear of suffering and death.
What can help us in this regard is to practice the spirit of active mortification, that is to say, that we would always be looking for occasions to mortify ourselves, rather than just wait for mortifications, which are actually unavoidable, to come to us. Let’s convince ourselves with the reasoning of our faith that mortifications or dying a little ourselves everyday possess a tremendous sanctifying and redemptive value.
If we faithfully follow and live our Christian faith, we know that suffering and death are like our brothers and sisters whom we should welcome into our life, as many saints have testified.
Our Christian faith tells us that suffering and death have ceased to be a punishment, but rather a means of our salvation. They are not anymore merely negative elements in our life, but are in fact now what would bring us to our eternal life with God. When seen with faith, suffering and death are actually happy events, not sad ones. We should be welcoming to them.
And even if we suffer and are martyred for the craziest of reasons, we should avoid responding to these possibilities with anger and hatred. We obviously can defend ourselves with some arguments, but we should see to it that we avoid falling into lack of faith, hope and charity. On the contrary, we have to convince ourselves that those possibilities are golden occasions to show the authenticity of our faith, hope and charity.
So, again, to be very realistic in life, we have to be ready and eager to become a sacrificial lamb. This is not bad news. This is Good News.
Thus, we have to learn to make sacrifice, first of all, because, it is the most natural thing for us to do considering who and what we are in relation to God. Then, we have to make a sacrifice because we have to make up for our sins and mistakes. And ultimately we have to make sacrifice because we have to follow the example of Christ all the way.*