SS ANDREW KIM TAEGON & COMPANION, M. (Memorial) Red
During the 19th century, Andrew Kim Tae-gon was Korea’s first native priest, and the first priest to die for the faith in Korea. As leader of the community, Andrew was tortured and beheaded in 1846 at Seoul, Korea. Also martyred was Paul Chong Hasang, a layman, who was one of the founders of the Catholic Church in Korea. Hasang reunited the scattered Christians and encouraged them to keep their faith despite persecution. He died in the GiHae persecution of 1839 before he could be ordained. Three bishops and seven priests were also put to death together with heroic lay men and women, married and single of all ages. These martyrs were canonised by Pope John Paul II on May 6, 1984.
First Reading: Prv 21:1-6. 10-13; Psalm: 119. R. v. 35a; Gospel: Lk 8:19-21
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
Persecution, both bloody and unbloody is something synonymous with the Christian faith. It is a choice we accepted by choosing to be Christian. Every follow of Christ is conversant with the injunction of our master, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24). So no one would claim to be unaware of this necessary cross of a Christian. We can as well choose not to be a Christian if we feel we cannot accept or tolerate the repercussion of this choice. It is a free world.
When Jesus said, “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it”; he was re-echoing all there is to Christianity. Being a Christian is simply listening and complying with whatever Jesus tell us; not because it is enticing or painful, but because it is doable and coming from God who alone knows the best for us. For every follower of Christ, our ultimate goal is heaven. And if we must gain eternal life, then we must listen to Jesus. And part of listening to Jesus is accepting and persevering the persecutions that come our way for the sake of the gospel.
The saints we celebrate today, saints Andrew Kim Taegon and companions had to face bloody persecution for the sake of the gospel. Andrew Kim Taegon was born at a time that Catholicism was prohibited in Confucian Korea. His father was martyred shortly after converting to Christianity. He however proceeded to the seminary and became priest at a time when the Catholic faith was practiced covertly in Korea. He returned to Korea to evangelise his people and was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River at age 25. Before his Bishop (Bishop Ferreol) died, he requested to be buried beside Kim. The Bishop was so pained by the death of this young priest that he remarked, “You will never know how sad I was to lose this young native priest. I have loved him as a father loved his son. It is a consolation for me to think of his eternal happiness.” Just like Andrew Kim Taegon, we can all persevere in our daily persecutions so as to gain eternal life.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, we pray for the grace of final perseverance. Amen.