VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Martyrdom today is not only manifested in violence but also in sarcasm, says John Paul II.
“We know that the persecutor does not always assume the violent and macabre countenance of the oppressor, but often is pleased to isolate the righteous with mockery and irony,” the Pope said, when he met with over thousands of pilgrims in today’s general audience.
The Holy Father offered his meditation in the Paul VI Hall, commenting on the canticle of the three young Israelites who sang in the fiery furnace, to which they were condemned by King Nebuchadnezzar. The canticle is in Chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel.
“Despite the extreme danger, when the flames were already licking their bodies, they found the strength ‘to praise, glorify and bless God,’ certain that the Lord of the cosmos and history would not abandon them to death and nothingness,” John Paul II said.
The canticle of the three young men, the Pope added, is like “a flame that lights up the darkness of the time of oppression and persecution, a time that has often been repeated in the history of Israel and of Christianity itself.”
In the biblical passage, the believer discovers “a God who is above us, capable of saving us with his power; but also a God close to his People, in whose midst he willed to dwell in his glorious holy temple, thus manifesting his love.”
“A love that he will reveal fully in making his Son Jesus Christ, full of grace and truth, dwell among us,” the Pope added. “He will reveal the fullness of his love in sending his Son among us to share in every way, save sin, our condition marked by trials, oppressions, loneliness and death.”
The Pope’s meditation continued the series of catechesis he has been offering on the Psalms and Canticles of the Old Testament. They may be consulted at ZENIT’s Web page.