September 20, 2016

Korean Martyrs

September 20, 2016:  SS. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest,
and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs

  • 'Eyeball' and 'heart' pins:  All your ways may be right in your eyes, but it's the Lord who proves hearts.  Haughty eyes and a proud heart lead to wickedness (1st reading); Give me discernment, that I may keep your law with all my heart (psalm)
  • 'Coin' tie bar:  Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares (1st reading)
  • 'Mary' pin, blue shirt:  Jesus' mother came to him... (gospel)
  • 'Working people' tie:  "Blessed are those who hear God's word and act on it" (gospel)
  • Red shirt, 'blood drop' pin:  Korean martyrs

Today, people of all religions will go to Assisi to pray for peace.  I've invited all bishops to organize prayer meetings on this day, inviting all believers and people of good will to pray for peace, because, the world is at war! The world is suffering!  "Those who shut their ear to the cry of the poor will also call and not be heard."  If we don't heed the cry of those suffering under the bombs, suffering exploitation of arms dealers, maybe when it happens to us, we won't be heard.  We can't ignore the cry of pain of those suffering from war.
We don't see the war.  We're scared by an act of terrorism, but this has nothing to do with what's happening in those countries, where bombs kill children, the elderly, men, women…"  The war is very close, touching everyone; it begins in the heart.  Lord, grant us peace in our hearts; take away our desire for greed, covetousness, fighting.  Peace!  Give us a heart of peace, beyond divisions; we're all God's children.  God is the God of peace; there's no god of war.  War is the devil's work; he wants to kill everyone.
Faced with this, there can be no divisions between faiths.  Don't just thank God because maybe the war doesn't affect us; think about those it does affect.  Think not only about the bombs, the dead, the wounded, but also about the people who don't yet have humanitarian aid; they're hungry, sick because the bombs are keeping the aid from them.  While we pray, we should feel ashamed that people are capable of doing this.  Today is a day of prayer, penance, crying for peace, a day to hear the cry of the poor, the cry that opens the heart to compassion and love and saves us from selfishness.

  • Prv 21:1-6, 10-13 It's God who proves hearts.  Doing right pleases God more than sacrifice.  Haughty eyes and proud hearts lead to evil.  Haste leads to poverty.  The wise gain knowledge.  If you shut your ear to the cry of the poor, your call won't be heard.
  • Ps 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44  "Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands."  Blessed they who walk in the law of the Lord.  Give me discernment, that I may keep your law.
  • Lk 8:19-21  Jesus, told his mother and brothers couldn't get past the crowd:  “My mother and brothers are those who hear and act on God's word.”

  • Reflection question from Fr. Chris:  Reread Gaudium et spes #42.  How do I promote unity and put faith and charity into practice?
  • Creighton:  The 1st reading directs us in behavior pleasing to the Lord and tells of the consequences of evil.  The gospel conveys a simple message:  Jesus' mother and brothers are those who hear and act on God's word.  Is it obvious to others that we're followers of Christ?  May others see Christ in us...
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Water fountain":  The Lord wants our hearts to become like water in his hand.  Water offers little resistance.  Is your heart like water, or ice or glue? Will you let the Lord pour you out?  Can you be splashed and sprinkled, or are you like molasses?  Will you let the Lord throw you into anything?  When God stirs you, do you thank and praise him?  When we give our lives to Jesus, we "accept the gift of life-giving water." When we receive the Spirit, "rivers of living water" flow from within. The water Jesus gives us becomes "a fountain... leaping up to provide eternal life."  May we be like water in God's hand.
    103 Korean martyrs/ Hak Jin Moon
  • Passionist:  The saints we celebrate today were martyred in the persecutions of the Christian community in 19th-century Korea.  St. Andrew is singled out because he was the first Korean Catholic Priest, and St. Paul Chong Ha Sang was an important lay leader and catechist.  The “companions” were likely ordinary Catholics the government rounded up to try to stamp out the Christian faith.  When they were martyred, Christianity had been growing in Korea more than 75 years.  Christian Japanese soldiers baptized the first Korean Christians, and the community grew.  By the time the first foreign priest arrived, a substantial community was already flourishing.  The Korean Church is the only known Catholic Christian community that first developed from the witness and work of laypeople.  At first the rulers in Korea just discouraged Christianity but soon outlawed it and actively persecuted adherents.  As Christians were arrested, tortured, and killed, the Church moved underground.  St. Andrew’s parents were part of that early faithful community.  Andrew was baptized at 15, expressed his desire to become a priest, traveled to Macau to attend seminary, was ordained in 1845, and returned home to help organize the Church.  After a year's ministry, he was put to death.  May the martyrs' faith and courage inspire us to fidelity to the Gospel and strength to be fearless witnesses for Christ in our daily lives.
  •  "Hear and do God's word":  Jesus pointed to our relationship with God and those who belong to him.  Being Christian is first and foremost a relationship with Jesus Christ.  God offers us an intimate relationship with himself, the author and source of love.  God's love never fails, compromises, or disappoints; it's unwavering and unconditional; nothing can hold it back.  God created us to be united with him and share in his love.  Jesus challenged his followers to recognize God as the source of all relationships.  God wants our relationships to be rooted in his love.  Jesus is God's love incarnate.  Through him we become God's adopted children; thus we have new relationships in his kingdom. Whoever does God's will is a member of his family.  "A Christian's only relatives are the saints" (Lucian of Antioch).  Those who live as Jesus' disciples enter into the family of "saints" here and in heaven.  True kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood.  Our adoption as God's children transforms all our relationships and requires loyalty to God and his kingdom of justice and peace.  May the Spirit transform us to enable us to love as God loves us.
  • Universalis:  SS. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Paul Chong Hasang, and companions, martyrs:  For centuries, Korea was closed to outside influences.  Laypeople seeking to find out about the outside world through the annual embassy to Peking found books about Christianity and were converted.  Over the next century, while the Korean church was entirely lay, over 10,000 Korean Christians were martyred; then priests came and were martyred too.  Today 103 of the Korean martyrs are celebrated:  lay, married or not, old and young, even children.  “The Korean Church was founded entirely by laypeople.  It withstood waves of fierce persecution.  The death of its martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today’s splendid flowering of the Church in Korea.” – John Paul II at the canonization of the Korean Martyrs

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