Let us thank God for the gift of faith and the sacraments that nourish our spiritual lives
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of SS. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest, and Paul Chong Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs (September 20, 2018): 1 COR 15:1-11; PS 118:1-2,16-17,28; LK 7:36-50
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
“My immortal life is on the point of beginning.” These words were the final communication of 25-year-old St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon to the Catholic community of Korea.
He was the first native-born Korean priest, but was able to serve for only about a year before he was captured during an ongoing persecution and eventually beheaded in 1846. St. Paul Chong Ha-sang, a layman, had already been martyred several years before while he tried to share the Gospel and secretly bring priests into his country.
The story of the Church in Korea is remarkable because it was accomplished by lay people who shared Christian literature they had obtained through China. They baptized each other and their children but were forced to live for many decades without the other Sacraments they longed to receive. Religious freedom did not exist until 1883. Before that, more than 100 faithful Koreans of all ages, economic and social backgrounds had suffered martyrdom because they believed in the Good News of redemption. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul proclaimed: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me. Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:10-11). Let us be truly grateful for our own faith in Jesus and for the holy Sacraments.
Suggested missionary action: We can read about the lives of these Korean martyrs or of other missionary saints. And let us pray that we grow in gratitude for the work of today’s missionaries.