“Be my witnesses/martyrs (γένεσθέ μοι μάρτυρες), and I too am a witness/martyr (κἀγὼ μάρτυς), says the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know, and believe, and understand that I am he: before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none. I am God; and beside me there is no Saviour. I have declared, and have saved; I have reproached, and there was no strange god among you: you are my witnesses/martyrs, and I too am a witness/martyr…” (Is 43: 10-13, Septuagint-translation)
The above-quoted passage is one of the readings at Vespers tonight, on the eve of the Sunday of All Saints. As I read this passage, the following question immediately pops into my mind: If this call, to be God’s “witnesses/martyrs,“ is a call to all of us, including me, then what does it mean in practical, daily terms?
The Greek word “μάρτυς“ (martyr/witness), as suggested by Bolotov, is related to the words “μέριμνα,“ a painful thought or care, and “μεριμνάω,“ to care for earnestly, or think earnestly upon. So, the kind of “witness“ we’re talking about, when using the word “martyr,“ is one who has who has seen/experienced something first-hand, and now carries that “information“ around not indifferently, but with earnest, even painful, care.
As far as our daily, cross-carrying journeys go, we all experience God through our ups and downs, if we let Him into the picture. We are then called in different ways to “witness“ to this earnest adventure, sharing it in usefulness to others. God Himself leads the way in this whole business of “witness,“ testifying to us of His only-Begotten Son and the primary Cross-Carrier, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who continues to walk with us, and bear the wounds of the painful experience of loving us. “Be my witnesses,“ He says to us today, for “I too am a witness.“ Thank You, Lord, for making all of our experiences useful, in You.