During the Angelus yesterday, Pope John Paul II called on all Christians to be ready to bear witness to the truth of Christ, even "at the cost of suffering and great sacrifice."
According to Church tradition, the Pope recalled the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist yesterday, whom Jesus had called "the greatest among those born of women."
John the Baptist gave "the supreme witness of blood, sacrificing his existence for truth and justice; he was in fact decapitated based on the orders of Herod," said the Pope.
Referring to the encyclical "Veritatis splendor," the Pope said martyrdom, like that of St. John the Baptist, is "an eminent sign of the holiness of the Church," which "represents the summit of the testimony to moral truth."
Although relatively few are called to this supreme sacrifice, said the pontiff, it is "testimony that all Christians must be ready to give every day, even at the cost of suffering and grave sacrifice."
Acknowleding the daily challenges of living the faith in today's world, the Pope said, "it sometimes requires a herioc commitment to not give up, even in daily life, to the difficulties that push us to compromise and to live the Gospel 'sine glossa' (without footnotes.)"