Podcast Reflections

Reflection on John 15.18-21 (George, martyr and patron of England; Easter Season)

Listen to a reflection for 24 April, the Festival of George, martyr and patron of England, on John 15.18-21

John 15.18-21

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 


Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own.’

For rather arcane theological reasons, the Church is celebrating George, the patron Saint of England today, rather than on 23rd April. The reasons for this transposition are of no great consequence, it is more important that George is not overlooked in our calendar of saints.

George was a member of the Praetorian Guard of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Despite this comparatively elevated position he was executed during the Diocletian Persecution of Christians in the year AD 303. He was executed because he refused to recant his faith. In standing firm as a practising Christian he condemned himself to a martyr’s death.

The word ‘martyr’ and the concept of ‘martyrdom’ are often used in respect of those who suffer some sort of inconvenience that disrupts their daily routines. Or we use these words to describe the way in which someone endures a physical or mental ailment, as in when we describe someone as being a martyr to backache, or insomnia, or whatever. However, this use of the words ‘martyr’ and ‘martyrdom’ are belittling in their triviality. To be a martyr is to follow the example of St George and every other believer who has stood firm in their faith, even to the point of death. To be a martyr is to suffer for one’s beliefs, and not just to be a victim of an awkward, and possibly self-inflicted, inconvenience.

We do our best to avoid that which we might describe as either physical or social martyrdom. We blow with the wind to ensure the favour of family, friends and neighbours. We are even willing to compromise to the point of standing in direct opposition to our profession of faith if it will give us an ‘easier’ life, and help us to avoid the vilification of others.

Sometimes our keenness to avoid being made a ‘martyr’ is tested to the extreme and we choose to stand out from the crowd ‘on principle’. But, how often do we stand out from the crowd ‘on an issue of faith’? How often do we find our earth-bound principles aligning with the tenets of our faith?Let us give thanks for the example of all those martyrs through the ages who have made the ultimate sacrifice because of the strength of their faith. Let us pray that we might, in our turn, stand firm as we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that we might turn our backs on the trivial and bear the banner of Christ in a world where so much is focused on the passing fancies of the secular and the self-serving.