Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 14 - Boniface of Tarsus, Martyr, Convert, Defender of the Martyrs

Aglaida had a favorite servant by the name of Boniface. The two of them spent many nights together in Aglaida's bed. Though he was bound to serve her as she bid him, Boniface was completely comfortable with the sexual nature of their relationship. As time went on, the two became increasingly uncomfortable with the carnal and broken nature of their lives. They couldn't point to anything specifically wrong in their lives--and they hadn't stopped having sex--but they couldn't shake a steady and intense feeling of conviction. It seems that even before they knew to name their self-obsessed actions sin they had some intuition to the fact. They wanted some relief from this anxious tension and so Aglaida had a horrible but wonderful idea. By Aglaida's reasoning, they would be relieved if she could own and display some of the bones of the Christian martyrs being made in Rome.When she sent Boniface to go and purchase or otherwise acquire the relics she did so with an amulet against emptiness in mind.

Boniface went willingly because he was commanded to do so and his affection for Aglaida led him to trust her grim rationale. As he had traveled, he had planned and brainstormed about how he might be able to coerce some poor or desperate person in possession of relics to surrender them into non-Christian hands. Boniface arrived in Rome and was very surprised to see that martyrdom was far more common than he imagined. He began to suspect that he might not have to purchase the relics because he might be able to steal or seize them in the chaos that followed the executioner's blade. But as Boniface surveyed the places where Rome practiced the power of fear and death, he began listening to and hearing the words that the Christians preached even as they approached their deaths. He was astounded to watch martyr after martyr refuse release because of a desire to maintain a faith foreign to Boniface. Soon, he had a name for the affliction that discomforted Aglaida and himself: sin.Under the power of conviction he began to trust the God and Lord of the Christians and soon repented of the ways that led to a death more profound than Rome's variety.

Having been converted, Boniface could not hide his passion and began to decry the evils that Rome perpetrated in the name of justice. Whereas he had come to profane the relics of the martyrs, he was now a defender of their sanctity. Eventually, he was arrested for the crime of being a Christian and after he refused to return to a life of freedom and death by denying his Lord, he was marched to the site of his own execution. As they prepared to make Boniface a martyr the thought must have passed through his mind that Aglaida would finally receive her relics when they sent her servant's body back to her. When she received them--courtesy of a faithful group of Christians--she learned what it was that Boniface had learned. Under the guidance of the Christians she was soon converted and found release from her sin and brokenness in a faith that made martyrs and opposed death at every turn--sometimes going so far as to crush death by dying.

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