They are the testimonies of ordinary life and today’s martyrs, who guide God’s people by being coherent and courageous messengers of the Risen Jesus. Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit. What today’s Church needs above all, is “everyday saints”. Pope Francis stressed this at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House
Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, described the courage of St. Peter who, after the healing of the lame beggar, speaks of Jesus’ resurrection before the heads of the Sanhedrin. But they are furious and want to sentence him to death as he was forbidden from preaching in the name of Christ. But Peter continues to proclaim the Good News because as he says: ’We must obey God rather than men’.”
This courage is completely unlike “Peter the coward” on Holy Thursday night, the Pope pointed out, “when he denied the Lord three times out of fear”. Now, the future first Pope becomes tenacious in his testimony and “Christian testimony has the same mission as Jesus: to give life”.
So in every place and in every age, the Christian “puts his life on the line bearing true witness to the faith”.
“The consistency between life and what we have seen and heard,” Pope Francis observed, “is the very beginning of testimony. But Christian testimony,” he pointed out, “has something else, it does not just pertain to the person who offers it: Christian testimony always takes two. We and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to these facts. Without the Holy Spirit there is no Christian testimony. Because Christian testimony, Christian life is a grace, it is a grace that the Lord gives to us with the Holy Spirit.”
Francis emphasised that “without the Holy Spirit we are unable to be testimonies.” So who is the witness? Is it the person who is coherent in their words and actions, in what they have received, that is, the Holy Spirit.” “This is what Christian courage is, this is what testimony is”.
It is the “testimony of today’s martyrs, many of them, who have been expelled from their lands, displaced, their throats slit, persecuted: they have the courage to profess their faith in Jesus right up until the very end; it is the testimony of those Christians who are serious in the way they live their lives: ‘I cannot do this, I cannot hurt someone else; I cannot steal; I cannot live my life in half measures, I must bear witness to the faith’.” “Bearing witness means pronouncing what one has seen and heard in the faith, the Risen Jesus in other words, with the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift.”
The Bishop of Rome then accentuated the following point: in history’s difficult moments, we say that “the homeland needs heroes”: “This is true and right. But what does the Church need today? Testimonies, martyrs.” Because the true testimonies, that is saints, are the everyday saints, those who lead ordinary but coherent lives and are testimonies to the very end, until death.” These “everyday” and “close” individuals are “the lifeblood of the Church; it is they, the testimonies, who make the Church move forward; those who bear witness to the fact that Jesus is risen, that he is alive and they do so by leading coherent lives with the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift,” Francis concluded by saying.