Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 4 - Barbara, Martyr, Refused to Concede

Barbara's father--Dioscorus--was away on business. At least that's what he had said. Of course, Barbara was convinced that he had left because of the seething anger that he was nursing. Barbara hadn't told him she was a Christian and was still very unsure when and how to do so. That wasn't what had excited his fury. Instead, she had refused his offer. Their relationship had been strained for years--ever since she became a Christian--and Dioscorus was feeling more and more embarrassed about his daughter at every turn. Luckily for him, there was no dearth of suitors looking to marry her. Dioscorus was a wealthy man and Barbara was beautiful--these two factors combined and made her a very attractive choice for a wife. Yet, when Dioscorus had finally found a man who he thought was best for his daughter, she had rejected him. Barbara had refused to marry a non-Christian but Dioscorus didn't know that was why. In his anger, he left Barbara at home to oversee the building of a new part of his estate.

Barbara wondered how she would explain her faith to her father while she oversaw the work the builders were doing. One day, they asked her to approve the design of the windows. "How many windows will there be?" she asked. They informed her that there were to be two windows in the bath-house they were building. Sensing an opening and a means to express her faith and create an opportunity to speak with her father, she insisted that they install three windows. Unknown to the builders, this was Barbara's attempt to represent the Trinity in a little thing such as windows.Knowing that she had contradicted her father's design, she also knew that this would result in his questioning her and lead to the conversation she had been seeking. When he arrived home--perhaps buoyed up with fresh hope for marrying his daughter so some other suitor--he was shocked to see his designs had not been carried out.

"What did the builders do, Barbara?" asked Dioscorus, "did they even consult the plans I left for them?"

"Yes, father, they did," replied Barbara, "but I told them to build three windows instead of two."

"Why would you do that, Barbara?" questioned Dioscorus as he felt the familiar tinge of anger flare up in the back of his mind. A conversation followed wherein Barbara admitted to being a Christian
 and Dioscorus insisted that she deny this and reject the faith of the hated Christians. Again she refused to concede to his wishes. He threatened her if she would not reject her faith but she stood firm in her hope. Finally, he said, "If you will not deny these Christian lies, then I have no choice but to hand you over to the prefect."

"As you wish, father," replied Barbara to the now shocked Dioscorus. He had assumed that she would bend and concede at his ultimate threat. After all, she knew well what was happening to Christians who ended up in the clutches of the Empire. Yet, Dioscorus had played the card and
 now was forced to follow through if he hoped to win back his daughter. Dioscorus dragged his daughter before the prefect and she was condemned to die. He turned to her and asked if she would not now reject her faith and live. She refused. The soldiers handed her father a sword and he looked at the prefect questioningly. The prefect indicated that if she would not deny her faith then it was Dioscorus' duty to decapitate her. Yet still she refused. Dioscorus' heart beat quickly as he insisted that she stop playing around and deny the things the Christians had taught her.

"I'll have to kill you, Barbara, if you refuse again" insisted Dioscorus.

"It's okay, Father, I love you. Do as you must." replied his daughter. He raised the blade and hesitated--hoping she would shriek our her denial in the scant moments of hesitation--and then swiftly decapitated his own daughter with a mournful wail. On that day, for fear of the Gospel of mercy and grace for sinners the Empire made both a martyr and a murderer in one family. Because of a refusal to concede by either, they both finally became what it was that their lives and actions were leading them to.

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