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  • Sarah Raad

Witness

“Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5).

Saint Paul in Prison (Rembrandt van Rijn)

I have been thinking about Saint Paul the Apostle over the last few days.


You see, Saint Paul was a Jewish man – a Pharisee – who deliberately plotted to destroy the Church, through the persecution of the early Christians.


You see, Saint Paul the Apostle died a martyr. As he was a Roman citizen, it was illegal to have him crucified – as that punishment was reserved for the lowest of the low slaves in ancient Roman society; however, it was possible to behead him – and to scourge him at times over the years prior to his death too.


And so it was that 64 years after the birth of Christ, and 31 years after the death of Saint Stephen the Martyr – whose execution by stoning Saint Paul HIMSELF oversaw – that Saint Paul the Apostle was martyred by being executed by beheading for proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ is God the Son.

And I have been thinking about that execution of Saint Paul – about his martyrdom… You see, the Greek word for “witness” is “martyr”. And what that effectively Saint Paul – and all of those who are martyred for their faith – are WITNESSES of their faith. And so it is that today I have been thinking today about what it takes to be witness of faith – a martyr so to speak…

You see, Saint Paul was not ready to become a martyr on the day of his conversion. He lived, in fact, a long life between the moment of his conversion and his eventual death. And I have been thinking about why…

Saint Paul gave testimony constantly throughout his life in the period following his conversion, and that testimony was nothing more than a WITNESS to the DIVINITY of Christ. Saint Paul wrote letters to the Thessalonians, Romans and other members of the early Church, and those letters (or epistles) became the basis of a very large proportion of the New Testament in the Bible… Those letters – that written word, which is in fact, Paul’s teaching – is evidence of Paul’s witness to Christ. In fact – when we consider the origins of the word martyr – that public witness and preaching of Saint Paul’s faith is actually the start of his martyrdom for Christ…


And yet – Saint Paul’s final witness to Christ was not through word – but through deed…


You see, the final witness of Saint Paul was in Rome. When Saint Paul returned to Rome, he was placed under house arrest – imprisoned – until his death. Saint Paul’s final witness of faith was in silence – just as Our Blessed Mother gave her witness to faith silently… We do not hear her words at all in Sacred Scripture after the words that she spoke prior to the Miracle of the Wedding Feast at Canaan when she told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5).


You see a silent witness – through deed and not word – is by far the harder witness of faith. It is easy to speak the word of God, but much harder to put those words into practise…


But in order to put those words into practise, one must build up the strength – through Grace – to do that. And how did Saint Paul do that?


Simple, he used his words. Because the truth is that we cannot give silence if do not first give words... And, like Saint Paul – and even more so, Our Blessed Mother – the most powerful witness, or martyrdom of faith is the silent participation in God’s will.


And I pray for the Grace for the words so that one day – I can be silent too…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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