Summary: “This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. "
Thursday of 24th week in Course 2018
Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions
Today’s readings from God’s word are a kind of missionary creed. What do all of us have in the Good News that is most needed by this culture of death, this world in pain? The world’s need is for an answer to the fundamental problem–sin. All of us have sinned, and admit it. All of those who have not come to Christ and the Church have sinned, but decline either to be aware of it, or to repent of it. As we will pray in a few moments, the knowledge of salvation comes through an awareness that Christ has forgiven our sins, just as he forgave the sins of this sinner-woman. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to supper was a sinner, too, but thought he was justified by observing the minutiae of the Mosaic Law. So he had no gratitude for the presence of Jesus, who could actually forgive him. But the street-woman repented in tears of her sins, knowing that Jesus claimed as a prophet to forgive them. And she ministered to Jesus in ways that almost nobody else had done.
St. Paul’s teaching today is also about mission–the mission of the apostles. They preached the same Gospel. Jesus Christ died for our sins as Isaiah and other OT prophets had foretold. The proof that He is all that He claimed to be is that after death and burial, He rose in power on the third day, just as Hosea and Jonah and He Himself had prophesied. Thus Christ has power to forgive sins, and on the day of Resurrection He shared that power with Cephas and all the other priests He had ordained on Holy Thursday. But–and this is important for Paul and Cephas and anyone who has that ordination gift–all of us are sinners in need of forgiveness as well. And it is available if we should only repent and turn to Christ. Just being here this morning humbly confessing our sins, and taking the Body of Christ, forgives all our venial sins and gives us the grace we need to be other Christs today and every day.
I believe a big part of our problem as 21st century Catholics is that we are spoiled. We can get the Scriptures right on our cell phone, or see all kinds of videos from EWTN and Franciscan and other sources in the comfort of our homes. We have access to daily communion, to radio shows 24 by 7 and to good Catholic publications in print and on the Internet. There’s so much there that we often ignore.
Our saint of the day, Andrew Kim Taegon, didn’t have such luxuries, so he can’t in the spiritual sense be said to be spoiled. The same with his fellow Korean Catholics. “Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers [during the great evangelistic wave that followed the Protestant revolution]. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for taking taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics.”
“Saint Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is the patron saint of Korea.” “Kim's parents were converts and his father was subsequently martyred for practicing Christianity, a prohibited activity in heavily Confucian Korea.”
“Following his baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years, he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured, and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul” on September 16, 1846.
Kim’s final words are missionary words: “This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.” Saint Andrew Kim Taegon and all the Korean martyrs, pray for us.