Martyrdom and the Face of Jesus

I have cried many tears over the deaths of the Missionaries of Charity in Yemen. Seeing their faces brings fresh tears to my eyes no matter how many tears I have already shed. Hearing or reading their names brings an automatic lump in my throat. Their savage murders coming in the same year as their foundress Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be canonized into sainthood, there are no words I can come up with to describe how that makes my feel.

These women gave their lives to Jesus in more ways than most of us can understand. They knew they were in a dangerous place, but they knew that is where God called them to be. Their obedience is something I know is right but still sometimes struggle to understand. God chose them to be there. And that is where they gave their lives for Him while in service to others.

I can’t bring myself to read the entire eyewitness account. I’ve only read what I’ve seen in this screen shot  from twitter.

eyewitness report pic monkey

My heart especially go out to the Mother Superior whose life was spared. I cannot imagine what that feels like. My only inkling is the story of Imaculee Ilibigaza’s survival of the Rwandan genocide where her entire family was slaughtered and similiarly to the Mother Superior it was only by God’s grace that she was spared.

None of asks for martyrdom. Especially those of us in the US fretting over Supreme Court nominees and the like. Not a one of us expects it to happen to us, but it happens. Not just in the dangerous places either. Cassie Bernall was in the library of her Littleton Colorado high school when a gun was put to her head by fellow students and she was asked if she believed in God. After answering yes, her life was ended. Another student said she was praying the entire time.

We see the images of the Missionaries of Charity, of the Christians lined up on the beach and we think, “Thank God it doesn’t happen here!” But it could. It might. Would we be ready? Patrick Henry said he regretted he had one life to give for his country. Would we regret we had only one life to give to our Lord? We actually all are called to martyrdom if we find ourselves in that position.

When I see the images of martyrs, I see the face of Jesus. I see the face of the one who makes life worth living; the one for whom we should be able to give up our lives. The Missionaries of Charity weren’t the only ones who gave up their lives that day. We do not know where the Salesian priest is currently but he may have been executed as well. And the lay workers who begged that the Sisters not be hurt, were slaughtered for their heroism. They begged for mercy for the lives of others and were murdered. Jesus has said,

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13

How can we not see Jesus’ face in their images and in their actions? I pray for the strength of these sisters that if God delivers that cup to me, I will be able to have the strength of spirit to drink of it fully that I may see His face in eternity.

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