Monday, September 19, 2022

The Feast of Saints Andrew Kim, Paul Chong and 103 Korean Martyrs.


"The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Luke 8: 19 - 21).

Tuesday 20th September 2022 of the 25th Week  Ordinary Time is the feast of St Andrew Kim Taegon, priest and martyr and Paul Chong Hasang, catechist and 130 Korean martyrs. They all gave their lives to Christ between 1839 and 1867. Among the martyrs were priests and laity and a full representative of the Church in Korea from all backgrounds.

We celebrate today the witness of the martyrs of Korea to the truth that the message of Jesus of mercy, peace and promise of eternal life can resound in every heart in the world. A Korean traveler in China heard the Good News in that country. He returned home to Korea with tracts of the Catechism. He brought the light of the faith to Korea.

In the Gospel of today, we hear:
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." Is this true? Let us check the experience and history of Christianity.

The saints hear the word of God and act on it. The saints are doers of the word and not just hearers. This is why they are saints and according to the word of the Way, the Captain of our faith are His "mother and brothers."

A lamp is lit to be placed on a lampstand.

Our saints of today Saints Andrew Kim Taegon and Paul Chong Taegon Hasang and their companion Korean martys heard the message of Jesus Christ and believed it. Not just believed it to be true, they acted on it. The proof of how much they believed the Good News and craved for the promises is that they sacrificed their lives for the Truth.

"The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by laypeople. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast 10,000 martyrs. The years 1791, 1801, 1827, 1839, 1846, and 1866 are forever signed with the holy blood of your martyrs and engraved in your hearts." (Pope St John Paul II).

Consider this astonishing fact about the faith and the courage of this Korean martyrs. They lacked the infrastructure of faith that we take for granted. In the city where I live, there are about six Catholic Churches within twenty kilometers radius of my home. The Churches are well connected by a network of good roads, bus and train services and mobile internet towers.
Go to any of these churches on Sunday and you will never see every seat occupied. Go on a week day, you find few people.

What is wrong? Are we losing the faith? How come it that we have grown so lukewarm about the promises and excitement of the Gospel?

"Christianity came to Korea through Christian books which had been brought across the border from China. In 1784 the small community of Koreans who had been converted through what they read in the books sent one of their own to Beijing to receive baptism."

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