Thursday, September 20, 2012

Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, priest and martyr; Paul Chong Ha-sang, martyr; and companions, martyrs

(I Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 7:36-50)

In this time of execution in the name of religion we are reminded today that Christians have suffered martyrdom in every age and throughout the earth. Saints Andrew Kim, Paul Chong, and many companions were killed for being Catholic Christians in Korea less than two hundred years ago. Their story includes a tribute to lay people who evidently had brought Christianity to Korea at least a generation before. When French missionaries arrived in 1836, they found the faith rooted in several communities.

Andrew Kim’s father was a Korean official who converted to Christianity. Eventually he too died a martyr for practicing his faith in a land where it was forbidden. Andrew became the first native Korean to be ordained a priest. In his early twenties when he returned to Korea to minister to his people, he was tortured and beheaded at the age of twenty-five. His dying testimony reflects the hope of the resurrection that St. Paul proclaims in the first reading today. Andrew said: “My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death.”

Living in western societies, we cannot accept tranquilly the news that Muslims would execute innocent people because of the flimsiest of relations to the producer of a libel movie. Both actions are regrettable although the first deserves greater condemnation than the second. Still Christ compels us to pray for and not to damn the perpetrators. His innocent suffering brought him to the resurrection and won for us the grace to love our enemies.