The first Sunday of the month of Tout

We are in the first week of the New Martyr’s (Coptic) year 1736, and today’s Gospel talks to us about St John the Baptist since he is the martyr between the two Old and New Testaments.
In the beginning of the new Coptic year for the martyrs we would like to talk about those Martyrs.
The first Church was actually like a race towards martyrdom and who will be fast enough to be sacrificed first for the sake of the LORD JESUS.  Saint Paul says (Philippians 3:13) “brothers and sisters one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”
What is ahead you St. Paul? (Rom 8: 36) “As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
A very unique race that the first Church lived, everyone is running to win this crown, the crown of martyrdom.
The historians tells us about those Martyrs that they faced death with coolness, placidity, joy and peace, they were thrown to hungry lions and they were very calm, filled by internal peace and joy.
They used to light up the streets of Rome by the bodies of the Christians, they rape them in oil soaked cloth and then hang them up on poles and set them in fire, and so the Christian Martyr keeps burning all the night long lighting up the streets of Rome.
I will try to answer the question about what was it that kept those people calm, in peace and joyful?
If we do a field study and meet up with those Martyrs in the dungeons and prisons and ask them why are you not afraid of death?  Why are you so peaceful and tranquil?  Their answer will be because of 3 reasons:
The First reason: the life we are living is a limited life.  How long will we live for, a 100 years?  Then it is a timely limited world in comparison to Eternity.  Any one of us who undergoes a surgical operation, especially in the old days, this was done with no anaesthesia and with very limited primitive sedatives, this person suffers a lot of pain and agony, but this person is been given a new life, the same thing is martyrdom in Christianity.  We know that we will suffer for a while and we might be burned alive, of cores this is not easy and we will die, but after death there is an eternal life awaiting us, so whatever happens to us in this world we are happy with because will reach an endless eternal life.
Okay, then what is the second reason that keeps you in tranquillity peaceful and joyful?  They will answer that we are strangers.
Saint Paul says (2Co 5:6”) (that while we are in the body we are away from the Lord, 8 We are without fear, desiring to be free from the body, and to be with the Lord.)
I have a firm believe that as long as I am living in this flesh then I am absent from the LORD JESUS.  Okay then when will you be not absent from the LORD JESUS? When you are absent from your flesh or body, and how can you absent from your body, through death.  So the best thing about death is that it is a bridge which we cross to meet with the LORD JESUS.  So death is not fearful even if it is preceded by some of the suffering.
So those Martyrs are:
1- Feeling that this world is a timely world.
2- Feeling that they are estranged and they long for the LORD JESUS.
3- Their love for the LORD JESUS was very clear and obvious.
When someone come to the priest and asks to be baptized, the priest tells him (my son to be honest with you, your chance in life before baptism is 100% but after baptism is 50% or even less, because after baptism those who are not Christians might capture you and if you insist on your Christianity you might suffer this and this and that), but the man insist on being baptized.
Why is that?  Because of my great love for the LORD JESUS, I am ready to endure everything even death itself for my love to HIM.
So the 3 things which make the Christians not afraid of death and they are in tranquility and racing for martyrdom are:
1- Their feeling that this world is timely.
2- That they are estranged from Heaven and want to reach it.
3- They truly love the LORD JESUS to the extent that they want their life to end so that they reach HIM and live with HIM for eternity.
Did we understand the story?
       Good News