Today in our parish we had the ordination of Marty Watt – ordained to the diaconate. In that ordination service we sing the hymn:
“O holy martyrs, who fought the good fight and have received your crowns, entreat the Lord to have mercy on our souls.”
The hymn spoke to me deep in my heart. It was a strong reminder to me of what I have always wanted to be in my life – a servant of Christ. And one needs virtually no possessions to make that happen.
Yet our lives become full of things we “need” – a home, a car, a bed, a bank account, food and a kitchen, things to do, tools, clothes, a place to go, money, validation, friends, electricity, etc.
Three times in my life that hymn of the martyrs fighting the good fight was sung regarding me – at my wedding, my ordination to the diaconate, and my ordination to the priesthood.
And I know how far I have come up short as a martyr – in my marriage, as a parent and in my priesthood. Reading through my 1978 journal while I was a missionary in Kenya, I realize the same shortcomings there. Too easily distracted from the goal to be a servant of Christ. Too many other things become important or pressing in life. It seems so many things need to be done or are needed, but Jesus said to such thinking there is only one thing needful.
I need to get back to that goal – find the one thing needful, the pearl of great price, and then sell or give away everything else to get it.
Being a martyr means:
Not only to live for the Lord but to die for Him
Not only to live for the Lord but to witness to others about Him.
Remembering the one thing needful, not the many things desireable.
It seemed obvious to me in today’s ordination service that I have allowed myself to drift far away from the one thing needful. Many things seem good, useful, helpful, enjoyable but only one is needful.
2 thoughts on “Fighting the Good Fight”
Gandhi said there are three levels of courage:
The lowest: Willing to kill and unwilling to be killed.
Next: Willing to kill and willing to be killed.
The highest: Willing to be killed and unwilling to kill.
Jesus, and the those martyred for doing God’s will, seem to embody the highest level. How does one acquire this courage?
Perhaps the courage is given by the Holy Spirit in the moment when martyrdom becomes a choice.
But to be open to the Spirit one must believe that Christ is more important than this world, and that in dying one is not losing anything or losing out on anything.
I am guessing that in the moment when faced with it, martyrdom becomes Christ, and that is how one can embrace it with joy.