“As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.”
– St Paul Miki
Who were St Paul Miki and his Companions?
St Paul Miki and his twenty-five companions were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan in 1597. They were crucified and then stabbed with spears, though the executioners were astounded upon seeing their joy at being thus associated with the passion of Christ. They were the first martyrs of the Far East to be canonised.
Collect for St Paul Miki and Companions
O God, strength of all the Saints, who through the Cross were pleased to call the Martyrs Saint Paul Miki and companions to life, grant, we pray, that by their intercession we may hold with courage even until death to the faith that we profess. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Deus, omnium fortitudo sanctorum, qui beatos martyres Paulum eiusque socios per crucem ad vitam vocare dignatus es, præsta, quæsumus, ut, eorum intercessione, fidem quam profitemur usque ad mortem fortiter teneamus. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
Today’s Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’
A Meditation on the Crucifixion
Every chapel of the Missionaries of Charity, that admirable religious congregation founded by St Teresa of Kolkata, has these words of Jesus, “I thirst”, inscribed next to the large crucifix that hangs behind the altar. In 1946 St Teresa clearly heard Jesus telling her: “I thirst for you, for your love”; she understood that she and all those who would join her congregation were called to satisfy as much as they could the thirst of Jesus for their love. By walking this way of the cross today, by our prayers and tears as we follow the Lord in his passion, we can give to Jesus our love, and so become in that way little missionaries of charity, sent out in love to bring love to Christ. And we might remember that Christ, the suffering Christ, is found in the least, in the most vulnerable and needy, in the poorest of the poor all around us. Every day, and not only in Lent, we are sent out as missionaries of charity to satisfy their thirst, to give them the love we have received from God.
If we become missionaries of charity in this way, and we learn to pour out our lives in service of the poor, in care and love for those in need; if we seek Christ in those around us, then we can truly say with the Lord that “it is finished”. This is to say that Christ’s redeeming work has been accomplished.
For Christ has died in order that man might live, in order to give us a share in his divine life, and God is love. When we have been raised up from the deadliness of our sins, and revived by the power of Christ’s cross, then we shall love as Christ loves, alive in his Holy Spirit. Then we shall know that God’s saving work is being carried out in us; then the saving work he finished on the cross is having its desired effect in this world, for he is renewing his creation through divine love.
As we gaze upon the Crucified One now, let us kneel and pray that we will have the strength and courage and wisdom to satisfy his thirst today; let us pray that the Spirit whom Christ has poured forth from the cross will make us receive new life, and become on fire with his love.
St John says: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:16-18).
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