Saints of Korea

We celebrate the feast of the Korean saints Andrew Kim, Paul Chong and companions today. Pope John Paul II called the Korean church unique, because it was founded by laypeople. In the 17th century, when that country was isolated from the rest of the world, some laymen traveling to Peking learned about Christianity from some books they found there and were converted.

They returned to their country and practiced the faith without any priests. The first priests to arrive there were quickly martyred. In the late 18th and 19th century over 10,000 Korean laypeople, husbands and wives and their children, were martyred.

The feast provides a wonderful endorsement of the role of the laity in the church. The earliest Christian martyrs were often bishops and priests, because the governments thought the church could be exterminated or controlled by eliminating its leadership.

This feast  reminds us that laypeople can bring the faith to others and make it grow and endure even through persecution. And they will give their lives for it.

God bless this church, Here’s more about the Korean martyrs

Where are the Leaders?

“ Our Sister Earth cries out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness.

The problem is that we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis. We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations. The establishment of a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems has become indispensable; otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice.

It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected. Any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.”

Pope Francis, Laudato SI 54-55

The Body of Christ

I Cor. 12. 12-14, 27-31

In writing to the Christians of Corinth, Paul says they have divided loyalties. Some say they belong to Paul, some to Apollos, some to Cephas– all high profile personalities–and by their divided loyalties they divide the church.

In our reading today at Mass Paul uses the image of the human body to remind the Corinthians that high profile personalities aren’t the only ones who count. Like the human body, the church is made up of many parts and they all count.

The image of the human body Paul uses is not unique to him. Many writers and speakers of his time– Greeks, Romans, Jews– explained  the unity and complexity of the empire, the community, the family and individuals through this image. The body has many parts and they’re all needed to form one body.

Our lectionary today leaves out much of Paul’s use of this image, perhaps too much, because you see the concrete way the apostle must have taught the people of his day.

“Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be?

If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”(1 Corinthians 12, 15-29)

What a simple, effective way to speak of the unity and diversity in society and ourselves. Through the images of the body, Paul goes on to speak of the different gifts there are in the church, apostles, prophets; teachers; some have the gifts of healing, assistance, administration…but not everybody has the same gifts.

What’s unique in Paul’s use of the image of the body is where he sees the body come from and what it is now. The body comes from the one Spirit, he says. We drink from the one Spirit; we’re all baptized into the one Body, which is Christ’s Body. We’ve been given different gifts from the Spirit, we don’t all have the same gifts, but what we have are meant to build up the Body of Christ.

It’s interesting  when we receive the Bread of the Eucharist, the priest says simply  “Body of Christ.” We receive Christ; we also receive his Body, the church, with its gifts, its strength and its weaknesses, but it’s Christ’s Body, and so we say “Amen.” “Yes.”

“Wait for One Another”

In today’s reading at Mass from 1 Corinthians ( 11, 17-26.33) we have the earliest written account of the institution of the Last Supper in the New Testament:
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my Body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

The simple account stresses that Jesus, taking bread and wine, gave himself, Body and Blood, “for you.” He gave himself for all. When we do this “in remembrance of me” we are called to be like him, to give ourselves for all.

Paul warns the Corinthians that by what he hears of their divisions and factions they’re failing to do what the Lord commands. Instead of imitating what Jesus d, they’re driving others away in their celebrations and thus bringing judgment on themselves.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

A beautiful phrase Paul uses, “wait for one another.” A phrase that comes from the family meal in Paul’s time, when someone might miss the meal if the family did not wait for them. “We have to wait for them.”

So we wait for the grace Jesus offers at the Eucharist, to see all at the table of the Lord, loved by God who loves all.

24th Week of the Year b

Is 50:5-9a/Jas 2:14-18/Mk 8:27-35 (131)

17 Monday
[Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church]
1 Cor 11:17-26, 33/Lk 7:1-10 (443)

18 Tuesday
1 Cor 12:12-14, 27-31a/Lk 7:11-17 (444)

19 Wednesday
[Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr]
1 Cor 12:31—13:13/Lk 7:31-35 (445)

20 Thursday Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs
1 Cor 15:1-11/Lk 7:36-50 (446)

21 Friday Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Eph 4:1-7, 11-13/Mt 9:9-13 (643)

22 Saturday
1 Cor 15:35-37, 42-49/Lk 8:4-15 (448)

Thursday, celebrating the Korean martyrs, is an opportunity to recognize the church in that part of the world:;_ylt=AwrEwSjPiJ1b0egACII2nIlQ?p=Korean+martyrs&hsimp=yhs-perfecttab&hspart=flowsurf&fr=yhs-flowsurf-perfecttab&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Ai%2Cm%3Apivot#id=15&vid=b50cfb7027bfd5c182f70f23ea654f6d&action=view

Our Lady of Sorrows: September 15



There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him. There were also many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.”  That’s how Mark’s gospel describes some onlookers at Jesus’ crucifixion. (Mark 15,40-41)

John’s gospel brings some of the women closer. He places Mary, the Mother of Jesus, standing at the cross itself. “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

She stands, not at a distance but close by,  not afraid to see, not absorbed in her own suffering, not disengaged from her Son or his sufferings. She enters into this mystery  through compassion. Compassion doesn’t experience another’s suffering exactly, but enters that suffering to break the isolation suffering causes. Compassion helps someone bear their burden.  The sword, the spear, pierces both hearts, but in different ways.

Compassion is part of the mystery of the cross.

The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, celebrated in the Roman calendar  on September 15th, was placed after the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross (September 14) only recently, in the 20th century by Pope Pius X.  He took the feast,  formerly the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, and placed it on this date which is eight days after the day we celebrate Mary’s birth (September 7).

The prayer for today’s feast says that when her Son “was lifted high on the Cross” his mother stood by and shared his suffering, but as yesterday’s feast of the Triumph of the Cross makes clear, Jesus  lifted high draws all to himself to share in his resurrection.

Standing by his cross, Mary was led to share in his ‘ resurrection.

For a commentary on John’s Gospel see here.

For a study on Mary on Calvary see here.

For readings for the feast and the Stabat Mater see here.