Green is a color associated with life. In precious stones it is often an emerald as in this broach; and yet green along with blue makes up a large part of what we see when we look at our planet.
Green is also the color of martyrdom. The church has always seen martyrdom as primarily symbolized by the color red given that so many people who have been martyred were killed and spilled red blood. When a martyr is celebrated on their feast day the clergy will wear red at the eucharist. But there are different kinds of martyrdom and red – the loss of human life, is only one of them. White symbolizes the martyrdom or self-offering of the monks and nuns as they let die some of the pleasures of life in exchange for a very great focus on God, prayer and community. And then there is green.
The green martyrs are you and me. Green is the color of this last kind of martyrdom because it represents the green of the land and those who walk on it. Regular people like you and me who have not been killed and have not become monks and nuns but have made sacrifices for God are called green martyrs. When you want to take something but choose not to because of your faith, this is green martyrdom. When you want to break a marriage vow or a commandment but choose not to because of your faith, you are a green martyr. When you would like to stay home and eat pancakes and watch cartoons on a sunday but instead go to church even this is part of green martyrdom.
Martyrdom, whether as big as a human life or as powerful as a religious life or as seemingly small as a choice not made is hard, kingdom work. It takes community support. It takes a life grounded in prayer and it takes a willingness to let go of that to which we consider ourselves entitled so that we engage the kind of humility which reminds us that everything given can and will be taken away.