Holy Martyrs of Rome | June 30

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Today is the optional memorial for the First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church. As you may know, Nero was an unpopular emperor of Rome when it was devastated by fire in 64 AD. Nero made Christians the scapegoats for the fire and initiated a persecution that tortured and killed many of them over the next 4 years.

The courageous faith shown by these martyrs is certainly inspiring. Their example is echoed in our first reading today from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans:  “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?... No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us.”

These are comforting words as we consider the challenges in our world today. There are no external evils in the world strong enough to separate us from the love of God, but His love also gave us our free will. Our free will allows us to accept God’s grace each day or reject it. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us: “…what comes out of a person…that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts come(s) evil.”

We may feel overwhelmed by the wickedness in our world, but it can do us no harm if we use the gift of our faith to reject it…to pursue a closer relationship with God each day instead of pursuing what the world has to offer.

So, let us ask for the intercession of the 1st Holy Martyrs to help us face life and death, present things and future things, knowing that none of them can separate us from the Love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. 


-Deacon Steve Whiteman