SS CHARLES LWANGA AND COMPANIONS, M. (Memorial) Red
First Reading: Acts 25:13b-21; Psalm: 103. R.v. 19a; Gospel: Jn 21: 15-19
LIVING THE MARTYRS’ FAITH
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The story of the martyrs of Uganda is a very touching one. It is a story that is even more relevant in our depraved world of today. A world where the boy and girl child are sexually violated under the nose of adults who supposedly should protect them but are unreasonably silent.
King Mutesa was the king of Uganda when the White Fathers brought Catholicism to Ugandan in 1879. On his death, his son Mwanga became king. Mwanga was a very corrupt king who engaged in pedophilic practices. He had the practice of violating his male servants at will. He was so absorbed in this practice that he ordered the beheading of his chief servant Joseph Mukasa, just because Joseph, a young baptised Catholic protected the boys from the king’s unruly lust.
On the death of Joseph Mukasa, the 25 years Charles Lwanga became the new chief servant. And just like his predecessor, Charles continued instructing and protecting the boys from the king’s advances. On the night before the martyrdom of Joseph Mukasa, realising that their lives were also in danger, Charles Lwanga together with some of the boys in the palace went to the White Fathers for baptism. When king Mwanga discovered that Charles was instructing the boys about the faith and protecting them from his advances, he seized Charles together with his companions and burned them alive on the 3rd of June, 1886, the feast of Ascension. They were 22 in all.
We can liken the faith and fortitude of Charles Lwanga to that of the post resurrection Peter. From Peter’s encounter with the risen Lord, we see a man who was ready to face his fears and witness to the faith. For the three times he denied Jesus, Peter made a recommitment to love and serve him. And this time around, he was faithful to this till death. As a baptised Christian, Charles Lwanga had to face his fears in confronting the evil around him. How many Christians today can boldly do what he did? How many of us can challenge the evil practices of the powers that be? How committed are we in protecting the innocence of the boy and girl child? We promote evil when the fear of the consequences of our good actions deters us from doing what is right.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us the faith and courage to witness to the gospel. Amen.