Jesus said, Blessed are you when you are hated and persecuted. Wherever you have been persecuted they will find no place. (68)
Patterson and Maeyer: No place will be found, wherever you have been persecuted.
Nancy Johnson: They shall find no place still standing where they have tormented you.
It is well known to historians that the triumph of Christianity occurred because of the martyrdom of so many that “loved not their lives unto the death.” In the book of Revelation we read: “I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them” (Revelation 12:10-12).
Christianity is the only major world religion that from the beginning held out to its prospective converts the fact of their likely persecution and martyrdom. The enemies of Christianity have often remarked that they dared not create martyrs. No matter how greatly he wanted to kill Saint Tikhon, the Patriarch of Moscow, Lenin said: “We cannot afford a martyr.” And today we see that the new martyrs of Russia have triumphed over their Communist persecutors. It is true that the blood of martyrs eventually annihilates those who have tormented them and often expunges the places of their suffering from the earth.
Jesus said, Blessed are they who have been persecuted within themselves. It is they who have truly come to know the father. Blessed are the hungry, for the belly of him who desires will be filled. (69)
Now Jesus expounds the martyrdom of the heart and spirit. Those that suffered inwardly and showed themselves willing to lay down their life for the faith are honored by the Eastern Christians especially, for they are considered martyrs of the spirit. Those who have offered their lives willingly, joyfully, have done more than conquer their enemies: they have drawn near to the Father and won a place in the holy kingdom. Those who hungered to sacrifice themselves because of love, and yearned for martyrdom have been glorified by what the Eastern Church calls “green martyrdom”–martyrdom without the shedding of blood (at least unto death). I have known several such martyrs in the Russian Orthodox Church and they were remarkable, possessing a spiritual power and quality that I saw in no one else. When they prayed, heaven heard and responded. Truly, whatever they asked they received because they only asked according to the highest will of God. May they pray for us all in that imperishable kingdom.
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Life or Death Lie Within