Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and companions
(Revelation 14:1-3.4b-5; Luke 21:1-4)
Today the Church celebrates 117 Vietnamese martyrs. Some of these were European missionaries but many were Vietnamese natives. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries 130,000 in Vietnam people gave their lives in testimony to Christ. The number almost matches the 144,000 people surrounding the Lamb in today’s reading from Revelation.
The passage consistently reads “Lamb” but clearly refers to Jesus. The hundred and forty-four thousand who follow him are those who testified with their lives to the Jesus’ divinity. They are rewarded for their eloquent testimony by being the first to rise from the dead. They make up a heavenly chorus singing what perhaps sounds like Beethoven’s “Ode to Glory.”
What are we to make of it? At the year’s end we are reminded of the price of our salvation. Not only did Jesus have to die to defeat the Evil One, but many others gave their lives so that we might know the Lord. These realizations fill us with the kind of gratitude that makes us more willing to testify with our lives. Our virtue and our service point others to the Lord Jesus so that they may know his salvation.