Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "Suffering in itself is not martyrdom, suffering becomes martyrdom when there is witness". This was emphasized by Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, during the Eucharistic celebration that took place this morning in St. Peter's Basilica, immediately after the audience granted by the Pope to participants in the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) which is being held these days (see Fides, 30/5/2023). The Cardinal, addressing the directors of the PMS, urged them to "feed" on the reflection of the words heard shortly before by the Sovereign Pontiff for their own mission, and continued his homily by dwelling on the very nature of martyrdom, starting from today's liturgical memory of martyrs of the martyrs of Uganda.
"Today we celebrate the memory of Saint Charles Lwanga and his 21 companions, who converted to Christianity; they chose to follow Jesus, above all Jesus and only Jesus. The price of this faith was martyrdom. “Martyría” precisely means bearing witness", the Cardinal highlighted. Our martyrs were ready to die for bearing witness. Death is the final act and it is the best act for bearing witness; but we are called to bear witness to Jesus every day of our lives. We know well that to bear witness to Jesus, we must die to ourselves. In bearing witness, death is necessary".
Cardinal Tagle underlined that the word death alone evokes thoughts of fear and dread, but we are helped by the first Letter of Saint John, which emphasizes well that where there is love, there is no fear.
"We can say that martyrdom is the will to suffer and even die for my beloved, Jesus Christ. It is not death for something, it is rather a love but for someone who loved us until his death", said Cardinal Tagle, who concluded: "Let us pray that our mission, as the Holy Father has reminded us, is not only a bureaucratic or financial activity, but a rooted witness in the love of Jesus Christ who gives us the strength to love and die a million times every day for our beloved". (EG) (Agenzia Fides, 3/6/2023)