The WORD in Other Words by Fr Emmanuel Menguito SVD (Philippines) for the 12 Sunday in Ordinary Time
Among the people that I most admire are the martyrs. They personify for me courage and utter willingness to give up their lives for what they believe in. One such admirable martyr is Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. Mexico came under anti-clerical authorities from 1926-1929 especially upon the leadership of its atheist president, Plutarco Elias Calles. The opposition to the anti-clerical laws that time led to what is called now as the Cristero War. On November 23, 1927, Blessed Miguel was executed by firing squad. President Calles had the execution photographed thinking that the pictures will scare the rebels. However, the opposite effect eventually happened for they saw in Blessed Miguel a martyr of God.
Blessed Miguel on his execution day refused to be blindfolded. He had the crucifix on one hand and the rosary on the other with both his arms extended as if in a cross emulating the crucified Lord. He shouted his forgiveness to his enemies and the battle cry of the Cristero rebels “Viva Cristo Rey!” He was not killed with the first volley of bullets and so one soldier had to shoot him point blank to make certain that he was dead. The rebels eventually were carrying the pictures of Blessed Miguel when they battled against the government forces in order to fire them up and find inspiration in this courageous priest and martyr. Blessed Miguel was beatified by Pope and Saint John Paul II on September 25, 1988.
This is but one account of a life of a courageous holy one of God who did not allow fear to overcome him but rather made his belief in God his source of strength in giving up his life in martyrdom. The life and death of martyrs are the best examples of what our Lord says in today’s Gospel of being courageous and unafraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul. We might never have the privilege of dying as martyrs ourselves but for certain dying to our own selfish desires and to bad habits and ways would be our little “martyrdoms” if we can call it that. Sacrifice is part and parcel of Christian life. The little “deaths” we have consist such sacrifice. This is but our small way of reciprocating the greatest sacrifice of our Lord in dying for us so that we can attain salvation.
Source – Bible Diary 2020