*(Greek ‘martus’ meaning both witness and martyr)
The young students murdered at Garissa University in Kenya, the 22 Coptic men beheaded on a beach in Libya, and now the 12 people thrown overboard to certain death in the Mediterranean are not only victims of evil, they are Christian martyrs every bit as much as the martyrs of the early church.
There is nothing good which can be said about their brutal murder. There is nothing good to be said about the evil of the misguided theology and politics which reign in some people’s hearts. It should be denounced and condemned.
But how do we honour these martyrs who died “unwilling, unjustly, and wickedly” and who also, it is claimed, died proclaiming with their lips that Jesus Christ is their Lord? (The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby’s Easter Sermon) Yes, I believe that we should inscribe 15th February or 2nd April into our calendars as the Commemoration of the Martyrs of the 21st Century, that we should wear blood-red vestments and offer the Eucharist and our prayers.
But even more than this, we should inscribe the high price of their faith into our own hearts, that we may never take lightly the privilege, responsibility and duty to which we have been called by grace, nor ever be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified. We are – with them – the Body of Christ: blood-red and broken, glorious and risen.
And, according to our faith, our weapons are truth, justice, peace, faith, salvation and God’s Holy Spirit, and our law is love.