Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, martyrs
(Daniel 2:31-45; Luke 21:5-11)
Perhaps no experience in United States history has been as sobering as the Vietnam War. It was clear that this country meant to save South Vietnam from a Communist takeover. It certainly expended tremendous human and material resources to achieve that goal. However, the Vietnamese Communists prevailed. The American people should have learned that they are not invincible. Much like the temple that Jesus contemplates with his disciples in today’s gospel, they will not exist forever.
This does not mean the end of hope. In the reading Jesus tells his disciples that they are not to be deceived. They must be vigilant in holding onto the truth that he has taught them. That truth may be summarized in the paradox that in order to gain one’s life, one must lost it. In other words, people have to serve one another if they are to thrive.
The Vietnamese martyrs offer an example. Many died during the persecutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Yet the Vietnamese today exhibit a vibrant Catholic tradition today. Both in their native countries and in the U.S. they excel in commitment to God, family, and nation. Now with their inclusion the United States may rededicate itself to justice and goodwill among nations.