My Beloved the Benevolent October 2022
Grace and peace, Wishing you every goodness and blessing
On Wednesday, October 5th, we celebrate the commemoration of the martyrdom of St. Maurice, the leader of the Theban Legion. The Theban Legion originated from the city of Thebes (Luxor) in Egypt and consisted of 6,600 soldiers; St. Maurice was the legion leader, and all the soldiers were Christians.
The legion was moved from Egypt to the western border of the Roman Empire to assist Emperor Maximian in confronting the tribes that were attacking the empire from the west. The legion’s soldiers were stationed on the western border of the empire in southern Germany, north to the north of Italy, and then south through Switzerland, where the headquarters of the legion was stationed. St. Maurice refused to offer sacrifices to idols and proclaimed his Christian faith and the faith of the legion’s members. The emperor feared that St. Maurice was leading a military rebellion against him. St. Maurice and his soldiers voluntarily laid down their weapons. The emperor ordered to slay one tenth of the soldiers of the legion so that the rest might be afraid; but St. Maurice declared their adherence to the Christian faith and continued to encourage his soldiers to adhere to the faith despite the emperor’s continued killing of the legion members until all the legion members were martyred…And at the forefront stood their leader, St. Maurice. The lands of Switzerland, Germany and Italy were drenched with the blood of these heroic martyrs, which was used as seeds for the spread of the Christian faith throughout those countries.
As we celebrate the commemoration of St. Maurice and his heroic soldiers, we learn from them the following:
1. Adherence to Faith: The stories of the martyrs are encouraging stories; they encourage us to hold on to our faith until our last breath. The greatest witness given by a Christian is the witness of blood. That is why the Church holds our fathers and mothers, the martyrs in such a high position. The witness of blood may be offered literally, as in the case of martyrs who shed their blood for adhering to their Christian faith, or it may be through spiritual struggle against sin. As the Apostle Paul mentioned, “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Rom 8:36 What is meant by “we are killed all day long” is not the martyrdom of beheading, or other such thing, but rather the continuous spiritual struggle against sin, especially since St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews writes as a reminder, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, stiving against sin.” Heb 12:4
2. The Christian faith does not need a weapon to defend it: Saint Maurice and the members of the Theban Legion were very large in number; they were a group of more than 6,600 soldiers and they were all equipped with weapons. They were renowned for their skill in fighting, and they used their weapons in the defense of the empire. When they confronted the pagan emperor, however, they did not use their weapons to defend their Christian faith, but voluntarily surrendered their weapons. Because they believed that their Christian faith was a strong and divine faith that did not need a human weapon to defend it. The empire, no matter how great it is, is an earthly empire that needs someone to defend it with arms, as for the Christian faith, it is God who defends it, not man. And the Christian person must hold on to the faith for the sake of saving himself. Christ our Lord refused that the sword be used to defend Him. When Peter the apostle wanted to defend Christ using the sword, “Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?’” Matt. 26:52-53
God is able to destroy all the enemies of the faith, but He is patient to offer a chance for repentance and give us the opportunity to persevere and hold on to the faith so that we may obtain the crown of glory; we should not be afraid of persecution and we should not worry about the future of the Church or the future of the Christian faith in the face of many challenges. It is our duty to preserve the faith and to persevere until the end, but the future of the Church and the faith is in the hands of the Lord of the Church and the protector of the faith. St. Maurice and the Theban Legion were faithful to the emperor and the empire, but when their devotion to the emperor opposed their devotion to God, there was a choice to be made and the choice was made without hesitation, “We ought to obey God rather than man.” Acts 5:29
May God grant us to use Saint Maurice and his heroic soldiers as an example in our lives, asking for their intercessions on our behalf to accomplish our spiritual struggle in peace.
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