Pope Francis on Thursday praised the consistency and courage of the modern day martyrs who continue to “carry the Church forward” even as they face death for their witness to the Risen Christ.
“These are the lifeblood of the Church; these are the ones that carry the Church forward, the witnesses, who attest that Jesus is Risen, that Jesus is alive, and they bear witness through the consistency of their life, with the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift,” Pope Francis said during his April 7 homily, according to Vatican Radio.
He said that the Church needs their witness now, just as much as at the beginning of Christianity when “Peter the coward” became “courageous” after Christ’s death and resurrection, as today’s readings reflected.
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that Peter, the very apostle who denied Christ hours before his crucifixion, has become emboldened by our Lord’s resurrection and preaches the Gospel to the leaders of the Sanhedrin even though they had forbidden it, the Holy Father said.
Being a Christian means being consistent “in what he says, in what he does, and what he receives,” even if witnessing to the Gospel means one “puts his life on the line” by doing so.
Today, we still see so many people living out their faith in Jesus in hostile environments, he said, but their witness is what carries the Church forward.
“It is the witness of our martyrs of today — so many! — chased out of their homeland, driven away, having their throats cut, persecuted: they have the courage to confess Jesus even to the point of death.”
In times of trouble people will often say that their country “needs heroes” which is an admirable thing to do, he said.
But in the case of the Church, he continued, we need “witnesses” and “martyrs.” They are “the saints of everyday, of ordinary life” which is lived with consistency and bears Christian witness “to the end, even to death.”
“It is the witness of those Christians who live their life seriously, and who say: ‘I can’t do this; I can’t do evil to another; I cannot cheat; I cannot lead life halfway, I have to give my witness,’” Pope Francis said.
“And this witness consists in saying what has been seen and heard in faith, namely, the Risen Jesus, with the Holy Spirit received as a gift.”