Homily from Morning Prayer for June 22, 2018.
The Feast of Saint Alban
First Martyr of Britain, c. 304
“My parents named me Alban, and I worship the living and true God, who created all things.” Today we remember and venerate Saint Alban who in the words of Lesser Feasts and Fasts was the “earliest Christian in Britain who is known by name and according to tradition the first British martyr. Alban was a roman soldier who gave shelter to a Christian priest fleeing persecution and who in the process became converted to the Christian faith. When the Roman officers came to Alban’s house looking for the priest he dressed himself as the priest and have himself up. He was tortured, tried and executed. Tradition has it his execution took place on the hilltop where the cathedral of Saint Alban’s now stands outside of the city of Saint Albans England.
One is given to wonder how one would react given the same situation. Would we be willing, in this modern age, to give up our lives to save someone else, especially a complete stranger? Dying to protect friends and family is one thing but dying to protect a stranger because he, or she, is an embodiment of the faith is something else again.
In the lesson from the second chapter of Romans appointed for today Saint Paul makes the point that “he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision external and physical. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal” At the time he was speaking Christianity was a part of Judaism and the measure was how Jewish are you which is why he uses that phraseology. But taken today we can make the same measurement as to one’s Christianity not as how faithful one is to the law but rather how faithful is one to Christ.
Like Saint Alban we all face the test from time to time of how much to risk for our faith. Saint Alban rose to the challenge and was willing to give his life in faith. Could we do the same?