year one of the striking moments in the commemoration of our three Blessed
Bulgarian martyrs was certainly the retreat preached by Fr. Giuliano
The theme of martyrdom launched us into a deep reflection of Christian
Starting with John 15:9: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”
Fr. Giuliano said that: “… the martyr, the saint, the blessed one
recognizes having been loved, and is the one who constantly marvels at
having been loved by God who became man…”.
The martyrdom of the Virgin Mary
The first martyrdom that we must consider in order to understand all the
others is that of the Virgin Mary, as St. Bernard aptly underscores it in
his homily found in the 15 September office of Readings.
It is not necessary to shed one’s blood in order to be a martyr.
The most common martyrdom doesn’t consist in giving one’s life: that is to
die on the cross, but rather to live in the shadow of the cross. Covered
with sins, hindered by all of one’s limitations, the witness accepts to
stay at the foot of the cross. As St. Albert the Great said: “The
Christian’s life is one that remains in the shadow of the cross.”
The martyr: the person invested with Christ
Reading the Book of Revelations and especially chapters six and seven
permitted us to contemplate the following reality: the martyr is primarily
the one who is invested by Christ. “…do you know who these people are,
dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?” (Rv. 7:13) There
is no direct answer for the first question. The only answer concerns where
they came from: “…these are the people who have been through the great
persecution. And because they have washed their robes again in the blood
of the Lamb… ”
The white robe has been whitened in the blood of the Lamb!
Martyrdom is an answer of love to Love who loves us.
“I have abandoned everything to follow Christ because I love the faults of
Jesus”. This is what Msgr. Nguyen said when he preached the spiritual
retreat at the Vatican in 2000 in the presence of Pope John Paul II.
And what are these faults of Jesus?
1. Jesus doesn’t have a good memory.
On the cross, he hears the one condemned to death say to Him:
“Jesus, remember me when you will be in your kingdom.” Jesus could have
said to him: “Yes, but at least… several years in Purgatory…”. “Today you
will be with me in Paradise”.
2. Jesus doesn’t know his math.
In the parable of the lost sheep (Lk. 15,4-7), for Jesus one sheep
is equal to 99!
3. Jesus doesn’t know logics.
When the woman finds her lost money, she calls her neighbors to
tell them: “Rejoice with me, for I have found the money that I had lost”.
To call neighbors to celebrate…that will cost her much more than the money
found! “The heart has reasons that reason cannot know” (Pascal, Thoughts
4. Jesus is an adventurer.
Those who want to succeed in politics or economics take care of their
publicity. For Jesus, there is nothing in that field. All that he suggests
seems to be doomed to fail beforehand (cf. the program of the Beatitudes
that seems impossible to live). For those who follow it, He suggests
persecutions and lawsuits.
5. Jesus doesn’t know finances or economics.
In the parable of the workers sent to work in the vineyard, we
assist in a salary scene that would be catastrophic for any company. Jesus
presents himself here as an irresponsible administrator.
Why does Jesus have these faults? Because He is Love! True love
doesn’t calculate, doesn’t place conditions!
Fr. Giuliano finished his retreat with these words: “The passion for
the Kingdom that our founder put at the heart of our Congregations
is a flame that burns in the depths of our existence.
In the shadow of the cross, we are all united with
those who accepted to give their lives “a drop at a time”.
In faithfulness, possibly not even seeing many results, not receiving many
bonuses, except that of answering by their life to the affection that they
felt surrounded by through their vocation that called them from the midst
of the world.”