“If it dies, it produces much fruit” … John 12:24
REFLECTION – “Through the glorious achievements of the holy Martyrs with which the Church blossoms everywhere, we are ourselves, proving to our own eyes, how true are the words we have been singing that: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Ps 116:15). For it is precious both in our sight and in the sight of Him, in whose name the death took place.
But the price of those deaths is the death of one man. How many deaths did that one man purchase by His death, for, if He had not died, the grain of wheat would not be multiplied? You heard His words when He drew near His passion, that is when He was drawing near to our redemption: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” On the Cross He carried out a vast transaction, there, the purse of our price was unfastened and, when His side was opened by the lance of the soldier, there streamed the price for the redemption of the whole earth (cf. Jn 19:34).
Now the faithful ones and Martyrs have been purchased but the faithfulness of the Martyrs has been proved – their blood is the proof … “As Christ laid down his life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1Jn 3:16). In another place it is stated: “At a grand table you have sat; now carefully consider what has been put before you, since it is your duty to prepare for such things” (cf. Prv 23:1). That table is great where the Lord of the table is Himself the meal. No-one feeds guests with Himself as food but this is exactly what the Lord Christ does, He, Himself is the host who invites; He, Himself is the food and the drink. Therefore, the Martyrs have recognised what they were eating and drinking so as to be able to repay such gifts. But whence can they make such return unless He who first paid the cost, supplies the source from which restitution may be made? That is the reason for the Psalm, where we sing what is written: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” ... St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor – Sermon 329, for the Feast of the Martyrs, 1-2 ; PL 38, 1454
PRAYER – Lord our God, Your Son so loved the world that He gave Himself up to death for our sake. Strengthen us by Your grace and give us a heart willing to live by that same love. With Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of Jesus and our Mother, may we stand at His Cross. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever, amen.