Memorial of Saint Paul Miki (1562-1597) and Companions, Martyrs in Japan
Paul Miki was born into a wealthy Japanese family and educated by the Society of Jesus. He would be inspired to join the Jesuits and live his life to help others grow in their faith. Miki was arrested and jailed with other Catholics, marching 600 miles from Kyoto to Nagasaki, where today it is the largest Catholic population in Japan. Miki had his chest pierced with a lance as he died on the cross on February 5, 1597. His last sermon was from that cross, where he forgave those who would kill him.
The criticism that the Martyrs in Japan endured was not far from the criticism that Jesus and his disciples experienced when they were questioned by the behaviors, they followed contrary to Jewish norms. We may face this at times when we live our Gospel norms and have to justify our behaviors among those who cannot believe our ways.
We trust and know of a higher call for each of us. Most of us will never experience the horrors of martyrdom or the challenges of religious persecution. But like Miki, each of us trusts that we will dwell in the place of our God someday. While we pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or participate in the Eucharist, may we give voice to those persecuted in our world for living their faith and witnessing the Gospel. May we have our hearts molded to Christ’s and do the things we ought to do that honor the faith handed on to us by the martyrs and our parents and grandparents.
How can we be more authentic in practicing our faith and worship and living our faith? Many times, like GK Chesterton allegedly said, others would be Christian if they met authentic ones. These tall orders remind us that we have a heritage of martyrs who left everything and lived everything to make Christ known. This is still our task today in our challenging world.
Through the mystery of the cross, O God, you remind us of your Son’s passion and those who still suffer for our faith. Guide us and protect those who suffer still around the world. Help each of us to faithfully follow your call so that molded into the passion of the Christ, we may be drawn to witness our faith boldly. Through Christ our Lord.