Daily Reflection
February 6th, 2003
John Schlegel, S.J.
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Memorial - Saint Paul Miki and companions, martyrs
Special Readings for this day:
Galatians:  2:19-20
Psalm:  113: 1-2ab-3, 4-5
Matthew 28: 16-20
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Thursday, the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

The words of the Gospel, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” found fertile ground in the heart of St. Francis Xavier (and the other missionaries) who traveled to the “orient” to build the kingdom of God.  Today we commemorate the “fruits” of those missionary efforts.  The blood of martyrs nourishes the Church from generation unto generation.  Today we recall martyrs of the young Church in Japan: Paul Miki and Companions.

During the forty years after Xavier visited Japan Christianity flourished.  That abruptly ended in 1597 when Paul Miki, John De Goto and James Kisai, all Jesuits, were arrested in Osaka.  Together with 21 other Japanese Christians they were sentenced to death by crucifixion and their left ears were lopped off as a final sign of shame.

While Paul Miki hung on the cross, he found the strength to invite the onlookers to embrace Christianity for which he was glad to offer his life.  At age thirty-three Paul Miki became the first Jesuit and first Japanese religious to be martyred in Japan.  As today’s Psalm notes: “Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.”

Each of these martyrs could honestly say “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I no longer live, but Christ lives within me; in so far as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”  Would that could be my/our prayer!

In the Gospel Matthew tells us that the disciples, in seeing the risen Jesus, “worshipped him, but they doubted.”  How contemporary! How often do we doubt that the risen Jesus is alive and working among us?  How often do we doubt that God is among us in the signs, persons and events that fill our life?  We doubt.  As St. John wrote, “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have come to believe.” Yet we doubt…and we believe!  But it was the certitude of Jesus’ concluding remarks that swayed the disciples from doubt to certitude: “Behold I am with you always.” 

In spite of all that had happened in the life of Jesus—the flight into Egypt, the temptations, the baptism by John, the miracles, the healings, the suppers and boat rides, the ridicule, the torture, the plotting, the prayer in the garden, the condemnation, the crucifixion, and the ultimate death on the cross, yet, Jesus says “I am with you always” as the risen Christ.  Again, “Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.”

Paul Miki and his friends believed those words.  And they lived and died by them!  What about us?  How relevant, how important, how comforting those words are for us in these days of corporate corruption, economic meltdown, rising unemployment, church scandals, fiscal deficits, the increasing uninsured among us, and war drums on two fronts.

“I am with you always.” 

Live in doubt and belief as we all do; but live!  Belief is stronger than doubt. So believe! If you are crucified with Christ you will live with Christ. “For those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.”

“I am with you always.”  “I am with you always.”  Let these words wash over you in your prayer today. 

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