Friday, 20 September 2013

 Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit.
-- St Lucy

today's saints almost threw me off...I remembered during Novitiate celebrating a large group of Martyrs from Asia that had inspired St Therese de Lisieux in her own vocation. She even wrote to one of these martyrs before their death to express her admiration. But this was not today's Saints from korea, but another large group from Vietnam! to add to the confusion,  Both are 19th century martyrs!

Korean  martyrs.

Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, Paul Chŏng Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs

Today the Church honors the Korean martyrs who gave their lives for the Kingdom of God. In 1784, Korean Yi Sung-hun was baptized in China and returned to found the first Christian community. Bibles were sent in from China and the young Church grew. Between 1791 and 1866, waves of persecutions occurred, killing over 10,000 Christians. Saints Andrew Kim and Paul Chong were instrumental in leading the Church through this turbulent time. St. Andrew Kim was the first native priest of Korea, having had Christian parents. He was beheaded in 1846. St. Paul Chong was a lay leader who appealed before the government and because of his pleas, Pope Gregory X sent more priests to Korea. He was martyred in 1839. In 2007, His Excellency Mr. Roh Moo-hyum, President of the Republic of Korea, visited the Vatican. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the visit which, “…served to strengthen the good relations that exist between your country and the Holy See.” Today there are upwards of four million Catholics in the Republic of Korea (South), with Christians in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North) still underground.

Reflections: When I was contemplating Christianity as an option for my life in the 1990's, one recurring theme unsettled me: Most of the things I was readings where information tracks written to convince young people to adopt Christianity, and they would often focus on 'the darkness of the faithless life'.  One such story told the story of Del Shanon, the 1960's pop artist who had the one great hit with 'Runaway'. It spoke of his tremendous success, and failure in life. A failure he built up because he depended so much on riches. The more things he had, the emptier he felt, until he committed suicide.  That's the Christian account of Del's life. Something tells me it was a bit more complicated and painful than that! But it always struck me how there was 'some truth' to this story, but that it didn't convince me that this is why I wanted to be a Christian. I couldn't quite name it at the time.
 Today's readings -especially the first and the Psalm- both allude to this idea that, we can't take anything with us, so...why spend our life accumulating riches?  It suggests that of course, God is the only true happiness in our world, so why depend on any others. But falls a little short for me. One could easily answer 'I accumulate riches because it allows me to live comfortably in this lifetime!".  Good point. But that alternative doesn't convince me either. Isn't there something missing from your life if all you have are riches?
 There is, and Jesus offers that. This is why the 12 and the women gave up everything to follow him. This is why the martyrs of Korea and Vietnam sacrificed their lives for their faith. They didn't have to. Nobody asked them to. They just knew. What did they know? They knew that to follow Jesus means " to aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." ( 1 Tim 6:10). These are the things that help us appropriate the Kingdom in our lives. These are the things that help us receive God's graces at every corner we turn.  Once again, Paul lays it out nicely for us: He explains to us the problems (there are too many arrogant people, and too many rich who seek happiness through material objects);  He explains where those problems lead us (obvious); and finally he explains what it is we have to do in order to follow Jesus, and avoid these traps that take us away from Him! Now, all we have to do it! And that's why, even back in the 1990's, I wanted to be a Christian. To be able to learn how to live love, and be love for others. It's kind of what Francis is urging us to do as well..except he uses more words!!
Blessings on your weekend!

1 Timothy 6: 2 - 12
2Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties.
3If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness,
4he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions,
5and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
6There is great gain in godliness with contentment (independence from material goods) ;
7for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world;
8but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.
11But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
12Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Psalms 49: 6 - 10, 17 - 20
6men who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7Truly no man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life,
8for the ransom of his life is costly, and can never suffice,
9that he should continue to live on for ever, and never see the Pit.
10Yea, he shall see that even the wise die, the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.
17For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.
18Though, while he lives, he counts himself happy, and though a man gets praise when he does well for himself,
19he will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never more see the light.
20Man cannot abide in his pomp, he is like the beasts that perish
Luke 8: 1 - 3
1Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him,
2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag'dalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
3and Joan'na, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

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