Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, martyrs

(I Timothy 3:14-16; Luke 7:31-35)

Today the Church honors the first Korean martyr-saints.  Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions gave their lives in witness for their faith in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Andrew Kim was Korea’s first native priest, but most of the people canonized with him were lay women and men.  In today’s gospel Jesus foretells the glory of such heroic people.

He is seen trying to explain why people are not repenting of their egoistic ways.  He says that they have been approached in two very different ways.  John the Baptist came to them as a fire and brimstone preacher.  His ascetic life was meant to convert people from their rather exclusive self-concern.  Jesus himself is preaching the love of God for all people including the worse of sinners.  Yet people still will not open their hearts.  Almost in exasperation he says, “Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”  He means that not only John and himself but also the many martyrs to follow will demonstrate the wisdom of repentance.  They will be glorified in heaven while those who refuse to love others will suffer want.

We live in a narcissistic time. Facebook and other social communication foster egotism and minimize the value of concern for neighbor.  Those who vaunt themselves can hardly be called true followers of the Lord.  While those who die to themselves for the sake of God will find themselves sitting with Jesus and the martyrs in glory.