Thursday, September 20, 2012

Korean Martyrs

The story of the Church in Korea is one of the greatest missionary stories in history. The faith was not planted there by foreign missionaries but as a result of one layman. He was a government official who ran across some Chinese Christian books and when he went on a diplomatic mission to China sought out a priest. He was baptized and brought the faith with him when he returned to his native land. Ten years later, when a Chinese priest arrived in Korea, he found 4,000 Christians. Unfortunately the spread of Christianity was not received well by all and the government began a persecution that led to the martyrdom of about 8,000 priests, religious, lay people, and a bishop. As we honor their memory today, let us pray that we may support the work of missionaries in the poorest Churches. Our reflection is from Pope John Paul II’s mission encyclical Redemptoris Missio #42.

People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, and in life and action than in theories. The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission: Christ, whose mission we continue, is the "witness" par excellence (Revelation 1:5; 3:14) and the model of all Christian witness. The Holy Spirit accompanies the Church along her way and associates her with the witness he gives to Christ (John 15:26-27). The first form of witness is the very life of the missionary, of the Christian family, and of the ecclesial community, which reveal a new way of living. The missionary who, despite all his or her human limitations and defects, lives a simple life, taking Christ as the model, is a sign of God and of transcendent realities. But everyone in the Church, striving to imitate the Divine Master, can and must bear this kind of witness; in many cases it is the only possible way of being a missionary.

The evangelical witness which the world finds most appealing is that of concern for people, and of charity toward the poor, the weak and those who suffer. The complete generosity underlying this attitude and these actions stands in marked contrast to human selfishness. It raises precise questions which lead to God and to the Gospel. A commitment to peace, justice, human rights and human promotion is also a witness to the Gospel when it is a sign of concern for persons and is directed toward integral human development.

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