The twelve Apostles, St Paul, St John the Baptist (the Gospel today is of his beheading), and St Maximilian Kolbe are examples of individuals who gave up their lives to witness their faith.
The Young Christian Worker (YCW) movement has also produced its fair share of martyrs. The brothers Andre and Roger Vallee and Daniel Antero are among them. The Joseph Cardijn Digital Library lists individuals from the YCW or related to YCW who have died in witnessing their faith.
There are martyrs, and there are those who live faithful lives every day without the need to be a martyr. We are all called to be a witness. And courage and bravery – witnessing for justice – can occur in ordinary life.
We witness the faith when:
- We stand up for a family member, friend, colleague or community member who is being bullied or hurt.
- We call out inappropriate behaviour by family, friends, colleagues, or community members.
- We hold ourselves and our leaders accountable.
Injustice is a feature of human nature, primarily due to power imbalance. Powerful people often disregard the rights of those weaker than themselves.
How do we respond to injustice? How do we strive for justice? How do we witness our faith?
Today’s Gospel passage is about injustice. We read how St John the Baptist – who Jesus Himself said was a great man – was beheaded by King Herod because of an oath Herod had made to the daughter of Herodias, who hated John the Baptist because he was pointing out her and Herod’s wrongdoing.
This is St John the Baptist, who we read, baptising Jesus some days ago. St John the Baptist accepted this without a complaint. He had prepared himself for this time.
The YCW members who were martyrs did not use violence. They were prepared.
Will I be prepared to peacefully stand up for what I believe in, like the Valle brothers?
Will I be prepared to peacefully stand up for what I believe in, like Daniel Antero?