Over the last fifty-some days, we have celebrated the Paschal mystery – the central mystery of our faith, from our Lord’s crucifixion, resurrection, ascension to his sending the Holy Spirit on his followers. This Sunday, after all that has been proclaimed, we add a great “Amen!” “So be it!” This “Amen” will be great only if we make it more than just words but also actions. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples that they might be witnesses to the Paschal mystery – our Lord’s death and resurrection, and the Greek word for “witness” is “martyr.”
This Sunday was originally called the Sunday of All Martyrs —because those who witnessed to Christ had to be ready to give their lives for him. Many Christians did and still do. This is what it means to be a saint – the readiness to give our lives for the Lord. Therefore the Lord says in today’s Gospel, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:32).
We should not seek to be killed for the gospel, but our priorities should be: 1) God; 2) God’s people, the “others” in our lives and 3) ourselves. Being human, and living in an individualistic society, we often reverse these priorities: 1) ourselves, no. 1; 2) others and 3) God, and putting God third is a practical atheism. We often have the misconception that to be a “saint” means only a life of misery and self-denial, but people who put their own pleasure and comfort first usually end up all “messed up.” A saint is really someone who has their life in the right order, and so is full of the joy of the Spirit: “a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2).
Meditation by Archpriest David Petras