In the language of the New Testament, a “martyr” is essentially a “witness”. John was a “baptist”, in that he chose this form of ministry to help the people towards repentance and reform of life. But, besides baptizing, John also spoke, and in his preaching and proclamation of the word of God he was a prophet and a witness to Christ.
An ancient Church homily speaks of three kinds of martyrdom: red, green, white. “Red” martyrdom is that of shedding one’s blood for Christ. “Green” martyrdom is that of the innocent children, cut down like fresh green plants in the springtime of life. “White” martyrdom is that of the adult Christian who spends life faithfully and sincerely in following Christ.
We are all called to live the life of a witness. At the end of each Mass we are sent out to bear witness. At the end of each Mass we are sent out to bear witness to Jesus. We are all sent to live the life of a martyr. We may not be called upon to undergo a martyrdom of blood, a “red” martyrdom in which we give our lives for Christ. But we are called to live a “white” martyrdom.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You appointed Saint John the Baptist to be the herald of the birth and death of Jesus Christ Your Son. Grant that as he died a martyr for justice and truth, so we also may courageously bear witness to Your word. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 29 August 2018
A Christian Pilgrim