St. Paul Miki and Companions
Nagasaki, Japan, is familiar to Americans as the city on which the second atomic bomb was dropped, immediately killing over 37,000 people. Three and a half centuries before, 26 martyrs of Japan were crucified on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki. Among them were priests, brothers and laymen, Franciscans, Jesuits and members of the Secular Franciscan Order; there were catechists, doctors, simple artisans and servants, old men and innocent children—all united in a common faith and love for Jesus and his Church.
Brother Paul Miki, a Jesuit and a native of Japan, has become the best known among the martyrs of Japan. While hanging upon a cross, Paul Miki preached to the people gathered for the execution: "The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ's example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain."
When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860s, at first they found no trace of Christianity. But after establishing themselves they found that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and that they had secretly preserved the faith. Beatified in 1627, the martyrs of Japan were finally canonized in 1862.
Today a new era has come for the Church in Japan. Although the number of Catholics is not large, the Church is respected and has total religious freedom. The spread of Christianity in the Far East is slow and difficult. Faith such as that of the 26 martyrs is needed today as much as in 1597.
"Since Jesus, the Son of God, showed his love by laying down his life for us, no one has greater love than they who lay down their lives for him and for their sisters and brothers (see 1 John 3:16; John 15:13). Some Christians have been called from the beginning, and will always be called, to give this greatest testimony of love to everyone, especially to persecutors. Martyrdom makes disciples like their master, who willingly accepted death for the salvation of the world, and through it they are made like him by the shedding of blood. Therefore, the Church considers it the highest gift and as the supreme test of love. And while it is given to few, all, however, must be prepared to confess Christ before humanity and to follow him along the way of the cross amid the persecutions which the Church never lacks" (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 42, Austin Flannery translation).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
Dear Lord, help me to be open to you
Lord you gave me life and the gift of freedom.
At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to You. I will leave aside my chores and preoccupations.
The Word of God
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs
He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out. (Mark 6:7)
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus proclaimed, "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Later, in keeping with his opening message, he sent his apostles out to preach the same message of repentance to make way for the kingdom.
But the apostles didn't preach in the mode of a street-corner evangelist threatening hellfire. Rather, they delivered the same good news that Jesus had preached: God loves you. He wants to heal you and give you peace. He is near, holding out freedom to all who turn to him.
This is the heart of repentance. God's love brims over with a desire to liberate us from our "demons," restore our spirits, and renew our minds. He has no interest in piling on guilt or fear or shame—not even to force us to repent. Rather, he wants to tell us that because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we can live in freedom.
So many voices tell us that we have no right to live in freedom as children of God. They tell us that our sins and failings have disqualified us. They tell us that God doesn't love us enough or that he does little more than tolerate us. At the very least, we should stay meek and timid and expect only the smallest crumbs of his attention. Those voices lie! Jesus went so far as to die so that we could be set free. He gave his life so that we could enter his kingdom.
So approach the throne of grace boldly. Open your heart, and accept everything Jesus has won for you. If it seems hard or vague or perplexing, try this. Sit quietly, and tell God one thing that keeps you from him: one habitual sin, one weakness, or one fear that you think bars your access to him. Offer to trade that one thing for a taste of his love. Then wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Perhaps he will tell you he loves you. Perhaps he will show you that God is not ashamed of you. Maybe he will offer you his truth in place of a lie. Whatever happens, know that the Father is with you, ready to forgive and heal and free.
"Father, I want to live in freedom, so I come to you today repenting and seeking more of your love."
1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12; (Psalm) 1 Chronicles 29:10-12
Allow me to translate the 5minutos from Sonora, Mexico:
"So let us see Jesus, whom sends today His friends two by two. He indicates perhaps that they are inseparable the love of God, preached in word, and the love of neighbors/others, manifested in charity and treating of brethren. That way we will be a sign for those who deal with us and see a community and society of authenticity, like followers of Jesus. In the solidarity and love...On certain occasion, a reporter asked an agriculture man if he could divulge the secret of his corn, that won the competition on best product year after year. The farmer confessed that it was owed to sharing his seed with his neighbors. -"Why do you share your best seed with your neighbors, if they too are in the same competition year after year?" asked the reporter. -"See here, sir" answered the farmer, "the wind takes the pollen of the mature corn, from one sown field to another. If my neighbors cultivate a corn of inferior quality, the pollination crossed would degrade constantly the quality of mine. If I am to plant good corn I should help my neighbor also to do it"...The same is with other situations of our life. Who decides to live well, should help others to live well, because the value of one life is measured by the lives it touches. And who opts to be happy, should help others find happiness, because the wellbeing of each one is found united to the wellbeing of all. Let us live in community, think of others too."
Speaking of community, we had our co-worker bible study group last night. A bunch here at work get together to read the bible and talk about the faith and then sometimes eat. I say all this, not to boast, but in hopes that in sharing my faith, my seed, you too will do good in your neighborhood, your environment. Because we have the ability to change our environment. I remember a while back I would sit with customers and associates for lunch, and often times they would pass around some raunchy jokes or pictures on cellphones around the table. I refrained from what they shared, and I would make the sign of the cross in blessing my meal before I ate. One of the head guys would mock me, making a quick sign and laughing. I took it lightly and laughed knowing well they got the message. After a while, the raunchy sharings slowly stopped, the environment changed. Seeds make other seeds. I say and do things in hopes others will follow. I do so to persevere. To grow we must give. Whether your time, talent, treasures, or even your blood, it's all been written today for your eyes to feast on. David said to his son Solomon, "keep the mandate of the Lord". He sowed the seed on his death bed. I could almost feel David saying with his whole heart "don't do the same mistakes I did" because he failed at times to follow the mandate of the Lord. We want only the best for our children, but what about the rest...God's children? Jesus takes care of that part. He sends us two by two. This week in friendship group it was only two of us sitting on chairs and we leave an empty chair for our Lord, to represent, as a sign of acknowledgement of His presence, for where there are 2 or 3 gathered in His name...He is there. Two by two, you and your spouse, you and your friend, or brother or sister, or just you and our Lord, no matter what...He is there. But realize what He sends to do...to preach and deliver from demons. We are to do the same. Who ME? Yes You! Read in the bible where it says "Do Not Be Afraid". Being afraid is of the devil. Children of God are unafraid. To prove it, read about today's saints in more detail, the Japanese warriors. There's even a Samurai, Takayama Ukon, that is perhaps going to be beatified soon! This cause for sainthood though is for all of us. We are all warriors, some good ones, some not so good. But we are all called to be good. I used to sell supplemental insurance and a selling line I was taught to use was "just because you stop doesn't mean the bills are going to stop right?" And as the customer agreed, often I would seal the deal. The same is with the spirit world, the real world. Just because you stop being good, doesn't mean that evil will stop working. When you stop, something else takes over. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a story this week about demons nearing the souls of my brothers, and I mean real strange presences they've experienced, I'd probably have 45 cents, LOL. So be careful, and this means be full of care, and to truly care means to truly love, and true love only comes from God. Yesterday a cousin sent me a youtube of a rap about marriage and fantasy, about how we are to put God in our marriage instead of a fake. I read some of the comments and I could've sworn the anti-christ was there, satan typing through person after person. I could say these are godless, (they actually were proud to be atheist and hated religion which is an oxymoron), but there is a real demonic presence in the spiteful words against our Lord. There is no joking here. You don't play with fire and not expect to one day not get burnt. My family, sin is playing with fire. I'm not standing on a soapbox preaching hell and brimstone, but I am saying we need to sow seeds like crazy! And good seeds at that! Because in the end, Jesus is triumphant. Whether or not you will be standing with Him...that's the story of the day...
ONWARD you have been sent