Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

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

Franz Jӓgerstӓtter died a martyr of the faith at toward the end of World War II.  He was an ordinary farmer with a wife and three daughters until 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 the Nazis tolerated his resistance.  But as the tide of the war turned, they tried Jӓgerstӓtter for sedition.  Jӓgerstӓtter was told by friends and churchmen to think of his family and repent.  But he defended his position writing, “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 must have felt before the guillotine ended his life.  John says that when a prophet first proclaims God’s word, it is like honey on the tongue.  But words have meaning, and actions have consequences.  People will reject a prophet’s criticism and then the prophet.  If the message is strong enough, they will seek to kill the messenger.

Having made the ultimate sacrifice for his faith , Jӓgerstӓtter’s story has a sweet ending.  In 2007 he was beatified by the Church.  There was no need for a miracle to show Blessed Franz Jӓgerstӓtter’s sanctity.  Pope Benedict XVI declared that his execution was in fact a martyrdom obviating any other proof of holiness.