Today’s reading from Acts speaks of Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. In his spirit, I’m reminded of two other men who have recently lost their lives amidst the turmoil of political struggle, crises of forgiveness, and lack of understanding.

The first, Fr. Frans van der Lugt, S.J., was dragged outside his home in Syria, beaten severely, and shot twice in the head. The second, death row inmate Clayton Lockett, died in agony from a heart attack caused by improperly administered chemicals that were meant to take his life.

Consider these men. What moves us about their deaths? When we look into their eyes from pictures on the Internet, what do we see?

What is worth dying for? How can the witness of Christ, of the first martyrs of the Church, of Fr. Franz, and even of Clayton Lockett, lead us to consider our mortality, and what our lives represent? What goodness do we seek to bring into the world?

As we carry on, let us live to make sure that those who have gone before us have not died in vain. They still speak to us. We must remember them.

—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.