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Today (February 6th) is the Memorial of Paul Miki and Companions who were martyred for their faith in Japan in 1597.  Paul Miki was born in Japan and became a Jesuit priest.  Along with 25 other people (Japanese and Europeans, Franciscans, Jesuits, and lay people) his was martyred because they believed in Jesus and refused to give up their faith. defines “martyr” as

A person who chooses to suffer, even to die, rather than renounce his or her faith or Christian principles. After the example of Christ one does not resist one’s persecutors when they use violence out of hatred or malice against Christ, or his Church, or some revealed truth of the Catholic religion.

In Japan of 1597 people  would have been persecuted simply for being Christian, even if they did not seek to evangelize.  In our country today, we are not persecuted to the point of death just for being Christian.  Yet, many don’t practice their faith publicly.  The attitude of secular society today is one of relativism, meaning you can believe whatever you want as long as you keep it to yourself.

And many Christians do just that; they don’t share their faith with others.  We won’t want to force our beliefs on others, would we?  We should not force others to believe as we do but we are called to speak up for what we believe in.  How can others come to know Jesus if we don’t tell them about Jesus?

In Matthew 10:26-33 Jesus says

“Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.  Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.   So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

We are called to share our faith (without forcing it on others).  How do you share your faith?  Do you stand up for what you believe in?

Each time I preside at Mass on a memorial or feast of a martyr I ask myself how far am I willing to go for my faith?  Am I willing to die for my faith?  I hope so but you never know how far you might go until you have to face the situation for real. 

Do you proclaim you faith to others?  Proclaiming doesn’t just mean preaching.  Do you live your faith in a way that people know that you are a true Christian believer?  St. Francis said ‘Proclaim the gospel always, use words only when necessary.

Faith is a gift; a gift to be shared.  Through the Holy Spirit may you have the wisdom and strength to proclaim our faith to the world.


Fr. Jeff

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