There was a period in the church’s life when Christians were practically cultivating pain so that they could become closer to the Lord. That age in the church is now past. We no longer flagellate ourselves, begging for the Lord’s forgiveness. We no longer wear sack cloths and cover our heads with ash as acts of mortification.

Our age has become an age of John XXXIII, the smiling Pope. Our age has become the age of Cardinal Sin, who makes people laugh inside the church, even if some people say that they should be stiff inside the church. Our age has become a clapping Church. Our age has practically become a boisterous Church inside the places of worship.

That is all right. However, I think that because there is an excessive stress on laughter, because there is an excessive stress on being happy Christians, because there is an excessive stress on the resurrection, we might miss the other side.

Our Christian life is an interplay of suffering and joys. Good Friday with Easter. We often hear our friends remind us that being a martyr is no longer fashionable. We mouth the same advice when we encounter problems at work. Rather than suffer, we are told to make other people suffer. Rather than suffer pain in our necks, we are told to be the pain in the neck of other people. The rule of thumb in this modern life, it seems, is if you don’t get ahead, someone else will.

We need martyrs.

You see what happened to the church that forgot its martyrs. You see what happened to a country that has forgotten what it is to sacrifice. You see what has happened to the church which has forgotten the meaning of suffering. You see what has happened to us because we would rather cause suffering than have other people bring us suffering.

The time of St. Lorenzo was a grace for the church. It was a period of glory for the church. There were martyrs left and right. It was a period of great blessing for the church.

Now, we have lost it. To be a martyr is no longer fashionable. What a great loss it has become for us because we have also lost the meaning of sacrifice.

Perhaps it is not a tall order, it is not asking too much to say, “Sana ibalik na mauso ang martir.” If this is so at home, then there will be love once again. If this will be so in the Philippines, then, there will be a spirit of sacrifice among Filipinos again. If this happens in the church, then, it will be another period of grace for the church.

We need people who look beyond suffering, people who look beyond pain. These people who look beyond pain, discover Jesus Christ.

Let us bring back grace to our life. Grace in pain, grace through suffering, grace through sacrifice. Ibalik natin ang martir.

Lk. 9:23
Only Jesus, Always Jesus

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