Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through the words of the Scripture we are all reminded of the dedication with which God’s servants had served Him in the calling and in the mission that God has entrusted to them. They have been called to follow God and to serve Him, making sacrifices to walk faithfully in His path and devoting themselves to the service of the Lord. In today’s readings we heard of the responsibilities that come with the position of being God’s chosen ones.
In our first reading today from the Book of Kings we heard of the moment when king David of Israel was dying, and he spoke to his son Solomon, whom David had made to be his successor, on what it meant for him to be a king over the Israelites, the people of God. David reminded Solomon how even as king, he had to obey the Lord’s commandments and will above all else, and in fact should be exemplary in that faith as his role as king was to lead and guide the people of God as God’s vicar and representative.
And David then also reminded Solomon of God’s promises to him, that as long as Solomon and his descendants remained faithful to God and did what David had instructed him to do, God would bless them and make their reigns secure forever. Eventually, many of David’s descendants did not remain faithful to God, including Solomon himself during his old age, when they served themselves and their desires rather than serving to bring glory to God. Many of them led the people down the wrong path and sinned against God.
It is with this background that we then listened to the Lord sending out His disciples as described in our Gospel passage today. The Lord sent out His disciples with clear instruction and guide that they must not trust in all sorts of worldly means but rather bring only what they absolutely needed, the barest minimum without even spares to compensate for their journey. In this manner, God reminded His disciples what it means to follow Him, and that is to be ready to face the many challenges that will come in our way.
There will be plenty of challenges and trials, as the Lord has highlighted it to His disciples. Just as there are many who would be open to listen and to accept the truth of God, there would also be many more who would not listen and reject the truth of God, preferring to trust in themselves and believe in whatever they wanted. And our predecessors had experienced all these throughout their many years in serving the Lord and being faithful to Him.
For example, today we have the memory of the faithful Holy Martyrs of Japan, especially the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Nagasaki, St. Paul Miki and Companions, who were martyred for remaining true to their faith despite coercions and pressures to abandon their faith. At that time, Japan was experiencing a great boom and expansion of the Christian faith as many people turned to Christianity and became believers, and even many among the nobles and lords were also converted.
The authorities, at that time under the rule of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Regent of Japan, was initially welcoming of Christians and their missionaries. However, changing political landscape and situations caused a rather abrupt turn in the treatment of Christians, as official persecution and opposition against Christians, missionaries and laity alike began in earnest. And under Hideyoshi Toyotomi, this peaked with the well-known trial and execution of the twenty-six Christians consisting of several missionaries as well as the members of the laity, including St. Paul Miki who was among the first Japanese Christians.
The persecuted Christians were brought to Kyoto where the Regent resided, and after having been condemned to their punishment of death, they were forced to march the very long journey from Kyoto all the way to the place of their martyrdom in Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaki, a distance of over six hundred miles. Yet, despite knowing their fate and the suffering that they had to endure, St. Paul Miki and his companions sang the glorious hymn of the ‘Te Deum’ praising and glorifying God throughout the entire journey.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have thus heard of how these courageous and faithful servants of God lived their faith and devoted themselves to the very end, going through even challenges and troubles even in the face of certain death and suffering. Through their undying dedication and commitment, St. Paul Miki and his companions showed us what it truly means to be faithful as Christians in living our faith. Are we able to commit ourselves as these predecessors of ours had done?
Let us all reflect on these matters, and think how we live our lives from now on in responding to God’s call for each and every one of us. He has called on us to follow Him, and how will we respond to that calling? Let us all seek the Lord with a new focus, commitment and desire to love Him, inspired by the courageous faith of St. Paul Miki and his companions who braved suffering and death for God’s greater glory, putting aside our pride and desire for worldly temptations. O Holy Martyrs of Nagasaki, pray for us all! And may God be with us always! Amen.