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. 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.
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.
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.
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....
Lord, may I never take the gift
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Heb 13:1-8
Let brotherly love continue.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc
R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Alleluia See Lk 8:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 6:14-29
King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
Listen to audio of this reading
Watch a video reflection
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Meditation: Hebrews 13:1-8
Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs
I will never forsake you or abandon you. (Hebrews 13:5)
Never. Not in any circumstance. Not for any reason. Not at any time. There are no loopholes or limitations to this promise. No restrictions apply.
This promise forms the foundation for all the hospitality, generosity, honor, purity, and brotherly love that the author of Hebrews mentions. God will never desert you or give up on you. When things are complicated, confusing, or overwhelming, you can fall back on his promise and know that he is with you. Even when you don't "feel" his presence, he is still there, hidden in the depths of your heart, giving you his grace.
So you can rest confidently. Almighty God can be your light when the way is dark and your salvation when you feel threatened. Relying on his promise, you can push aside any fear that robs you of sleep. You can find a way to be generous even when finances are tight. You can endure the exhaustion of having two jobs, being a new mother, studying for exams, or juggling multiple projects and schedules. And not just endure—you can find peace and joy in the midst of it all. All because you know that God is always with you.
This promise is more than a nice thought or a springboard for increased self-effort. It's a weapon you can use to defend against whatever threatens to discourage you or rob you of your peace. It's a strong support for you as you grapple with the challenges and stresses of life: a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a job, temptation to substance abuse, pornography, gossip, or slander. As your mind churns and your emotions flail, one thing is true: God has promised never to leave you.
So go ahead and ask him, "Where are you right now, Father?" He may surprise you with what he says about who he is, who you are to him, and what he knows about your circumstances. He will help you find the way through them. He will calm your fears and give you the assurance that he can bear you up as you keep trying to be hospitable, generous, and loving. Whenever you feel forsaken or rejected, rely on this: I will never forsake you or abandon you.
"Father, where are you right now? Help me to rest confidently in your strength and love."
Psalm 27:1, 3, 5, 8-9
From today's 1st Holy Reading:
The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?
From today's Psalms:
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
And we have Jesus arrested and in the custody of Jesus, what will he do to the Lord? What is not discussed is that our Lord is not afraid. He lives the Psalms, He embodies the Psalms, He IS the Psalms! He is not afraid, knowing that this same Herod had his cousin Saint John The Baptist arrested, and then had his head cut off at the whim and fancy of his daughter and illicit wife. Because his wife was his brother's wife, and it was not lawful to marry your brother's wife and the truth didn't set well with her. So she had the truth cut out of her life...St. John the baptist's head.
The question of today, now that Jesus is in custody in our grasps, what will we do with Him in our lives? Will I still be afraid of what's going on in my world or the world in general? Today's saint was preaching from the cross, asking others to see the joy of Christ, a hard pill to swallow coming from a man dying on the cross, but the world does not understand God's glory and joy. Not until we submit ourselves, a total surrender as the Japanese did, with all his heart, mind, and soul, and the body to boot.
Here I try to be a success at work, and my family, and for the Lord, but the perplexing issue for me is how the success for God's Kingdom envelops the totality of my work and my family and anyone I encounter. I can not cut out God out of work. I can not cut out God from my wife, and kids and other relatives. And so I bring Him to work. I bring Him to the house. But sometimes, He gets cut out. Too busy. No time. And that is the dilemma of Herodias. She is not so different than some of us huh?
And so, we should take heart in the Sacred Heart of the beloved, our Lord our Savior who says "whom should I fear?". God is asking a rhetorical question, because there is no one to fear when you are one with the Lord. The devil will attack the body, but can not attack the Spirit. And just as much as the devil hates this, God hates sin. Only His hatred is Holy and good. It can not set well that we sit well with sin in our lives. So today, a Friday, as we approach lent, let us seriously consider what is at stake in our lives for self and for others in our lives...the faith. I will take on a new challenge for lent. What it is, I am not sure. But let us challenge ourselves and our faith. Do not be afraid. Do not fear to come closer to our Lord. Our life as an avid Christian is one of luring God's sheep to the point where they can hear the call of the Good Shepherd. Do not just be amused by the Word, but be AMAZED. As a matter of fact, being amazed at God is a sure sign of the Holy Spirit working within your soul. So take heart and take the Sacred Heart to heart...there's much more in store for you than you could ever possibly imagine...
if you've read this far, perhaps
tap into the audio version of my2cents
which I may do for lent: Listen Here
let me know what you think, beta!