Memorial of Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr
(Tobit 11:5-17; Mark 12:35-37)
This has been a week of martyrs. On Monday the Church celebrated the second century martyr, Justin; on Wednesday, the Ugandan martyrs Charles and companions; and today, the bishop-martyr Boniface. All refused to either flee or rebel against persecution. Rather they chose to offer their very lives as a witness to Christ’s love for the world. Christian martyrs provide a key to understanding today’s gospel.
One reputable New Testament scholar calls the passage a “puzzle.” By citing Jesus as saying, “David himself calls him (the Messiah), ‘lord’; so how is he is son?” it seems to ridicule the position that the Messiah would be a descendent of David. It is further noted that the Gospel of Mark does not even hint that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, David’s city, and that only Bartimaeus while blind calls him the “Son of David.” But it is quite possible that the citation is meant to distance Jesus from David as a warrior-savior. As the martyrs emulated him, Jesus saves the world by dying and not by killing others.
We may be tempted to either leave the scene or make threats in face of criticism of our faith in Jesus. A response more in line with the Christian tradition would be to make a reasoned defense of our beliefs. In the end selfless love, not hatred or indifference, moves the world toward greater good. Furthermore, God’s revelation nowhere contradicts reason but affords us greater hope than imaginable by philosophy alone.