Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, martyrs

(Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23)

A Ugandan priest reported last week of today’s feast: “Pilgrims have started walking from within and outside the country to commemorate the twenty two Ugandan saints who perished for standing for the gospel values.” St. Augustine spoke of similar excitement during the feast days of the ancient African martyrs.

Charles Lwanga lived in the latter part of the nineteenth century. By that time Uganda had many Christians, Catholic and Protestants. But its king lived more like a decadent Roman emperor. Adolescents serving in his court were harassed into sexual liaisons. When Lwanga protected some of these youths, he was summarily executed. Pope Paul VI canonized him and twenty-one others who resisted the king’s tyrannical lust.

In the reading from Acts the Lord tells Paul not to be silent. Lwanga and companions heard the same message and spoke out with both words and actions. Their example validates our struggle to live holy lives that give testimony to Jesus’ resurrection.