Of course we find ourselves yesterday and today praying for Fr. Jacques, for his eternal rest and in thanksgiving for his vocation and ministry and for the eternal reward of his labors and witness. Nor do we forget to pray for the other hostage who was hurt. And we pray for the men who murdered Fr. Jacques, that they may find the rest that perhaps they didn't know in this life, that they may find a truer face of the merciful God than perhaps they had known.
Fr. Jacques would have begun the Mass, leading the people in the prayer of the Sacrifice as he had done thousands of times before. Could he have known as he did so on a proverbially plain Tuesday of Ordinary Time that he would be brutally murdered before it was over? And yet everything I've read about him says that he had lived as to prepare for such a moment, in generosity and priestly dedication.
We all have this call before us. In this world, increasing hostile to the God revealed in Jesus Christ, there will be more martyrs in the traditional sense. But all of us who are believers will face some kind of martyrdom, some invitation to suffer, to be limited, cut short or cut out for the sake of the Gospel, whether by those committed to religion that doesn't realize it has been delivered from the blood-drinking gods of human invention by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ or by those whose secularism becomes intolerant and dogmatic--as it must, for it has nothing to stand on but its self-referential insistence on its own truth, even as it often denies that there is even such a thing as 'truth.'
It is our task to be prepared for this moment, that we also may be found faithful. The Lord himself invites us to witness. The world needs it desperately, for it has no idea how to respond to the violence. It has no idea how to respond because it has lost any place from which to speak or reason, any foundation on which to stand. That foundation, that place to begin, can only be the living God, the self-emptying God revealed in Jesus Christ, and the more the world forgets him, its own Creator, Source, and Ground, the more God himself will look for martyrs.