Monday, July 9, 2012

Augustine Zhao Rong and companions

In the year 2000 Blessed John Paul II canonized 120 Chinese Catholics and foreign missionaries who were martyred between 1648 and 1930. In 1999 he sent a message to the Chinese people. Let us pray for the Church in China today and also for volunteers in mission countries, that they may all witness to the love of Christ. Our reflection is from the 1999 message.

As you well know, dear brothers and sisters, in accordance with the mysterious plans of divine Providence the Gospel of salvation reached your own country: as early as the fifth and sixth centuries groups of Syrian monks crossed Central Asia and brought the name of Jesus to your forebears. Even today, a famous stele in the capital Chang'an (Xi'an) powerfully evokes that moment in history, from 635 onwards, which saw the official entrance into China of "the Religion of light". … The Gospel message, proclaimed in those distant beginnings, has lost none of its relevance, and it invites and impels you to make it known to those who have not yet received it. The life of Jesus' disciples, then as now, in China as elsewhere, must be inspired by the "Good News", and the genuine living of the Gospel in your lives will be a shining witness borne to Christ in your surroundings.

I realize that you feel unequal to such a great and demanding mission, but you know that you can count on the victorious power of Christ (cf. Jn 16:33), who promises you his presence and help. … In your midst, too, the blood of your martyrs has become the seed of a multitude of authentic disciples of Jesus. My heart overflows with wonder and gratitude to God for the generous witness given by a host of Bishops, priests, men and women religious, and lay people. And it seems that the time of trial, in some places, has not yet come to an end!

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