Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(Revelation 10:8-11; Luke 19:45-48)

Franz Jӓgerstӓtter died at the hands of the Nazis toward the end of World War II. He was an ordinary farmer with a wife and three daughters until war broke out and he was called to fight in the German army. He knew that the Nazis were thugs and took his stand as a conscientious objector. For a while he was allowed to maintain his neutrality, but by 1943 the Nazis would no longer tolerate his resistance. They tried him for sedition and summarily beheaded him. Jӓgerstӓtter defended his position before critics who told him to think of his family. Before his death, he wrote, “I cannot believe that, just because one has a wife and children, a man is free to offend God."

In the first reading, Presbyter John conveys how Jӓgerstӓtter felt before the guillotine ended his life. John says that a prophet announces God’s will with euphoria. It is indeed a privilege to speak the word of God. But words have meaning, and actions have consequences. To preach the word of God, a prophet needs courage. Some will rightly judge him or her on the basis of fidelity to the preached message. Others ignominiously persecute the prophet because the truth he or she speaks constrains their will to do as they please.

Although Jӓgerstӓtter made the ultimate sacrifice for his faith, his story actually has a sweet ending. In 2007 he was beatified by the Church. There was no call for a miracle to show Blessed Franz Jӓgerstӓtter’s sanctity because the farmer-war resister was declared a martyr of the faith.