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THE HOLY MARTYRS OF THE HOLY ROMAN CHURCH JUNE 30, 2021



A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mt 8:28-34


When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.



REFLECTION “Go then!”


Jesus promises to be with us all the time, giving us the comfort, strength and means to follow Him.


In the reading from the Book of Genesis, God wanted Isaac to be head of the descendants of Abraham. He heard the plea of Ishmael's mother, Hagar, as she did not want her son to die. God had promised that He would make of Ishmael a great nation. God does keep His promises and He came to the rescue of the young man by opening the eyes of his mother to see a well of water.


In the Gospel, Jesus delivered the possessed men from the demoniacs. The men were driven mad by forces beyond their strength or control. Legions or an army of 6000 demons were noted to be brutal and committed untold atrocities. Jesus, too, heard the cry of the sick and weak and gave refuge to the possessed men.


In 64 AD the Roman Christians were faced with supreme evil. Today we celebrate the first persecution of Christians organized by the Roman government under the emperor Nero. After the Great Fire of Rome, the Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church were blamed for the fire which destroyed portions of the city and ruined the Roman economy. The Christians of Rome were faced with brutal and inhumane barbaric deaths. Nero was a mad man who took delight in doing evil.


Nero is best known for his debaucheries and his cruelty. He even murdered his mother. He was evil and enjoyed cruelty. The Christians were martyred in the coliseum and some in the gardens of his home.


The first martyrs of Rome faced grisly deaths. These included being fed to wild beasts, being crucified, or being burned alive (as human torches to light the night sky)! Most of these brutal executions took place in public in order to attempt to deter Romans from following Christianity. They failed to do so, and the more harshly they oppressed Christians, the more Christianity grew and spread.

We pray to and thank the martyrs of Rome. They never gave in to denying Jesus. Though legions of evil spirits attacked them and though they suffered here on earth, it was they who witnessed to Jesus and it was their sacrifice that helped Christianity grow and spread.


When we are faced with evil, God is always with us. The outcome might not be what we wanted or expected, but the peace of God's love will sustain us. St Paul in his second Letter to the Corinthians 6:1-10 reminds us "In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you".


God answers prayer but sometimes not like how we expect. Hagar found water for her dying son. The demoniacs were shown mercy and the legions of evil were expelled. The Holy Martyrs were martyred but God was always with them, giving them the grace to stand up for Christianity.


There is one thing I ask of the Lord, only this do I seek: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. (Ps 27 (26): 4). May His will in our lives be done.


God Bless You

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