Chillies! Poppies! Roses! Strawberries! Blood! Things that are red! Biting into a red chilli is something you may regret! For some people just seeing blood causes angst never mind if you are actually bleeding yourself! The colour red stands out. It’s potent, powerful, strong! Red signifies Danger! Warning! Beware! You ignore a red warning light at your peril! People see you, notice, when you wear something red. You stand out!
The Liturgy uses the colour red on Good Friday, Pentecost and also for martyrs! Christ shed his blood to save us! The Holy Spirit came in tongues of fire! A Martyr, someone who dies for their faith demonstrating that their faith is not just a set of ideas, just for show. It is living truth itself, worth more than one’s own life. A ‘martyr’! A ‘witness’, standing at the very threshold of heaven and earth, still on earth but called to give up their life for the faith. Stephen, the first Christian Martyr, in our first reading, demonstrates the coming together of heaven and earth in Jesus and his followers.
Staring death in the face, may be the most challenging moment of our lives. It doesn’t really matter what the cause is: sickness, age, an accident, or violence. Letting go can be so hard and many find themselves clinging to life, even when unconscious. The Fear of death is truly one of our greatest human fears. Stephen surrenders his life to Jesus when it is his time to die: “Lord Jesus receive my spirit”. Surrendering at our last moment can be made that bit easier, if we practice letting go, surrender to God in small but important ways.
Hand over all your small and big, if we can, trials and anxieties you encounter each day and focus instead on what is important and, of value in life. The more we practice surrendering, letting go, to God our loving Father, the easier it will be to commend our spirit to him at death. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit!”