Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs

Being sick is often a time of experiencing darkness. We feel miserable at best and afraid for our lives at worst. We often become inwardly focused, since our suffering calls so much of our attention to ourselves, and it is difficult not only to be the light of the world, but to see any light at all.

Once in the town of Gennesaret people saw the light of the human race come in from the shore, and seeing Him they gathered up all the sick, all those in the darkness of suffering, and He brought light into their lives.

We are still in winter, and it is often a time of sickness for many and, depending on the ferocity of your winters, it can also be a time of isolation for those who cannot leave the house when conditions are bad: the elderly in particular. Winter is a time of darkness, though now the days are gradually lengthening. How might we, as torches of Christ’s light, illuminate the lives of the sick, the elderly, the lonely, and the depressed in our homes and communities?

St. Paul Miki was a Jesuit scholastic, nearly ready for ordination, when he was caught up in the first wave of cruel persecutions to sweep through Japan in the 16th century. Crucified as one of twenty-six men from various religious orders, he went gladly to the cross, even though it meant his deep desire of being a missionary to his own people would go unfilled. But this did not stop him from being a light to them.

From his cross he said, “Having arrived at this moment of my existence, I believe that no one of you thinks I want to hide the truth. That is why I declare to you that there is no other way of salvation than the one followed by Christians. Since this way teaches me to forgive my enemies and all who have offended me, I willingly forgive the king and all those who have desired my death. And I pray that they will obtain the desire of Christian baptism.” Even in his suffering, he did not allow the light of Christ to burn any less bright. Rather he hoped, by his words, example, and prayers for his persecutors, that they, too, might catch fire and experience the joy he had come to know in Christ, a joy not even the shadow of death could dim.

February 6th, 2017