What’s the difference between a victim and a martyr?
A victim is always described as dying “of” or “from” something. But when you describe a martyr, you talk about what they died for. While a victim is hurt by something, a martyr is suffers for something or someone. While a victim is having something happen to them, a martyr is choosing what happens to them by their will.
“…I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:17-18)
The word martyr comes from the Greek word for witness. So when we see Jesus in Acts 1 telling his disciples that they are called to be witnesses of the faith, he is also calling them to martyrdom for the sake of spreading the Gospel. The apostles were not victims—they were martyrs, because they lived their lives for Christ until death. This turns their death into the fulfillment of their lives—the crowning achievement—instead of something that defeated them.
While not all of us may be asked to lay down our lives for Christ at our death, we are all called to live our lives for the faith.
Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz
Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
He is a presenter in Ascension’s Chosen, Altaration, and The 99 programs, and has a channel on Ascension Presents. He is also the host of the Ascension podcasts The Bible in a Year and The Catechism in a Year.