Saints Behnam, Sara, and the Forty Martyrs
By Sadeer Farjo
Today, December 10, is the feast day of Saints Behnam, Sarah, and the Forty Martyrs according to the Syriac Catholic Rite's Calendar. Behnam and Sara were the children of King Sinharib. They become converts to Chrisitianity when St. Matthew, a priest, cured Sara from leprosy. Behnam, Sara, and the forty slaves were all baptized by St. Matthew.
When King Sinharib found out that his children became Christians he was frious and demanded that they denouce their Christianity. Refusing to denouncing their faith Behnam, Sara, and the forty slaves took flight to Mount Alfaf. King Sinharib sent his soldiers after them and had his own children and the forty slaves killed.
What I find most amazing in these events is that the slaves were baptized and remained with their so called master, Behnam, even enduring death along side him. This event reminds us that only Christ can set us free. The Forty Martyrs were not made free by some political action, but by God's Grace bestowed upon them in their Baptism. We read in John 8:36: "If therefore the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." Also as St. Paul writes:
"For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." GALATIANS 3:26-28 (New American Bible).
The forty so called 'slaves' could have saved their own lives by abandoning Behnam and Sara; however, they decided to risk and ultimately lose their own lives with them. By the virtue of their baptism, the Forty Martyrs were no longer slaves, they were brothers and sisters in Christ.