During the celebration of the feast of St. Sebastian this week, Bishop Mario Moronta of San Cristobal, Venezuela, said the country was in urgent need of Catholics who bear public witness to their faith in the midst of the country’s current difficulties.
“The word martyr,” the bishop recalled, “comes from Greek and means witness. Thus, every martyr is considered a witness of faith in Jesus Christ, someone who has been able to give up his entire life for Him and for the Church and for his brothers and sisters in the faith.”
Nevertheless, Bishop Moronta noted, St. Sebastian and the other martyrs “did not become so overnight. When the difficult hour of martyrdom arrived they were already prepared, because throughout their own lives they had been courageous witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.”
Bishop Moronta explained that being a witness “does not mean doing spectacular or miraculous works. It is above all showing forth faithfulness to God in the little things, following the teachings of the Master in the Gospel.”
“This is the great challenge for the Church today and for each of her members: we are called to be leaven. That is, to make our society rise with the principles and values of the Gospel; to illuminate the darkness that overshadows society with its brilliant light; to break down all walls of division so that each human being can become a new man or a new woman,” he added.
Those who “call themselves believers in Christ but do not act in His name are simply liars,” the bishop warned.
“There is nothing easy about the times in which we are living,” he continued. “And as believers and followers of Jesus we are called to be capable of building the kingdom of God.” “This means we must bring the values of the Gospel everywhere that we go so that the light of Christ shines forth in its entire splendor.”
“Today Venezuela needs us to be courageous witnesses of Jesus Christ. This is not a task for tomorrow; it is something to be lived out today by each believer, not in isolation but in communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith,” Bishop Moronta stated.