Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and companions, martyrs
(II Timothy 2:8-15; Mark 2:28-34)
The night before he was assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life - longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will.” Dr. King knew that his cause was in line with the gospel. He could rest assured, like St. Paul in the reading today, that even if his persecutors silenced him, they were not going to stop the movement for human dignity and racial equality.
Nobody wants to die a useless death. Because we believe our lives are valuable, we hope our deaths may magnify the purpose for which we live. Of course, we who believe in God especially want our lives to reflect God’s will as King proclaimed. A chosen few of us, however, feel the urgency to have our lives reflect a particular aspect of that all-encompassing good. We readily think of social reformers like Charlie and Pauline Sullivan who have given their lives to assisting some of “the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters.” Since 1972 the couple has campaigned for better treatment of prisoners in the criminal justice system. They inform right-minded people of the systematic mistreatment of the incarcerated often for venal reasons. They also urge everyone to recognize that a society can by correctly judged by how it treats its imprisoned offenders.