One day, while biking with my son, we came across beautiful vines blooming with pink and white lantern-like flowers along the river. We paused to appreciate the sight and offer a prayer of gratitude to God for creating such beauty. As we observed, we noticed busy bees collecting nectar from the flowers. It was a mesmerising scene as they swiftly moved from one bloom to another, skillfully gathering nectar. Suddenly, my son told me, “Mummy, you know bees die after they sting?” Curious, I searched online and discovered that when a honeybee stings, its stinger gets stuck, causing its abdomen to rupture and resulting in the bee’s sacrifice. This sacrifice is a defense mechanism to protect the hive from perceived threats.

As we were approaching All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day at that time, I thought of the saints who sacrificed their lives as martyrs. Martyrdom involves willingly giving up one’s life or enduring suffering for a cause or belief, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to principles even in the face of adversity or the threat of death. In the Catholic faith, numerous saints are recognised for their martyrdom. Saint Peter, the first Pope, and Saint Paul, the Apostle, were martyred in Rome—Saint Peter was crucified upside down, and Saint Paul was beheaded. Saint Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl, was martyred by the English during the Hundred Years’ War, accused of heresy, and burned at the stake. Saint Agnes, a young Roman girl, was beheaded for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. These are just a few examples, as many more saints throughout history have endured martyrdom. Their stories are inspiring, showcasing their unwavering faith and dedication to God, the heavenly Father, and Lord Jesus Christ, even in the face of death.

In the present times, martyrdom may not be prevalent, but I had a dear friend who exemplified sacrifice and selflessness. He passed away at 46 due to cardiac arrest, leaving behind his loving wife and four children. While his death was not directly related to his faith, his Catholic moral values guided his actions. He was an exceptional teacher who dedicated his heart to his students. As a passionate Star Wars fan, he made costumes and brought joy to hospitalised children. He was always generous, offering his homecooked sumptuous meals to host us all. He was a true friend, ready to help in any situation. He was a devoted father and husband, setting an example for his children through faith, actions, and commitment. Even in his passing, he appeared in a dream, inspiring me to embark on my faith journey. Through his miraculous influence, my family and I encountered God.

The encounter of the bees collecting nectar from the blooming flowers reminds me of the martyrs and their selfless sacrifice for their faith. Their stories, like those of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Joan of Arc, and Saint Agnes, inspire us with their unwavering commitment to God, our heavenly Father, even in the face of death.

In more recent times, my dear friend’s untimely passing showcased his selflessness and dedication. His life, guided by his Catholic values, touched the lives of many as a teacher, a bringer of joy, a generous friend, and a devoted family man.

Through the bees’ sacrifice and the examples set by the martyrs and my late friend, we are reminded of selfless acts’ profound impact. May their stories inspire us to live lives of faith, service, and love, knowing that even the smallest sacrifices can make a difference.

“Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.” Psalm 4:5.

In Memory of Shawn Chak.

Written by Kit Lee.