Sunday, September 19, 2010


“The Korean Martyrs”
Artist and Date are Unknown


Biographical Information about St. Andrew Kim Taegon [1]

Biographical Information about St. Paul Chong Hasang

Readings for the Memorial of Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon and Paul Chong Hasang

Readings and Commentary:

First Option
Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.
Commentary on
Wis 3:1-9

This passage, while frequently used on the feasts of martyrs, can be understood as an early description of the process of achieving a place in the heavenly kingdom by all those who went before us in faith. The flow of this description provides a good picture of the purification of all the faithful that takes place in the transition from life, through purification in Purgatory (“…chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed”), to new life with the Father.

Second Option
Romans 8:31b-39

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written:

For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Commentary on
Rom 8:31b-39

St. Paul bursts into a hymn proclaiming the victory over death and suffering experienced by the faithful, lifted up by God in Christ. The premise that the love of God assures salvation to the faithful is strengthened as the evangelist asks the rhetorical question “What will separate us from the love of Christ?” Over all obstacles (human, physical, and metaphysical – “height and depth” probably referred to ancient astrological terms indicating the closest proximity and the most distant star from the zenith), is the love of God expressed in Christ as the unshakable foundation of Christian life and hope.

The Apostle quotes Psalm 44:23 as his song denies that even death is a barrier between the faithful and God’s love. No earthly or spiritual force can stand against such love as that shown in Christ Jesus.

CCC: Rom 8:26-39 2739; Rom 8:31 2852; Rom 8:32 603, 706, 2572; Rom 8:34 1373, 2634
Psalm 126:1 bc-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

R. (5) Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Commentary on
Ps 126:1 bc-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

Psalm 126 is a lament. In this short psalm the singer rejoices at the return of Israel following the Diaspora, the conquering of Israel and its enslavement. In this hymn, the people remember the greatness of God as he restores their nation and brings the people back to their own land ("Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves."). The sense is one of being overflowing with thanksgiving.

Luke 9:23-26

Jesus said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory
and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Commentary on
Lk 9:23-26

The Gospel takes up the theme of life and death as Jesus first informed his disciples that he will undergo the “Passion” at the hands of the Jewish hierarchy (v.22) and be raised. He then provides this invitation to life by contrasting, as Moses did in
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, the (spiritual) salvation brought about through faith and the (eternal) death that awaits the faithless.

CCC: Lk 9:23 1435

The martyrs of Korea provide a witness for all of us who face persecution or resistance from the world outside our communities of faith. Here is a brief description of the fate of some of these holy and faithful predecessors in the faith:

“May 24, 1839, arrived. The events of that day are described by Cho Shin-ch'ol Charles as follows ‘On the appointed day ox carts, with crosses taller than the average person erected on them, were brought to the jail. When all was ready guards brought the condemned prisoners out and tied them to the crosses by the arms and hair. A foot rest was put under their feet and the signal given to depart.

When they arrived at the steep hill on which the Small West Gate is situated the guards suddenly pulled away the foot rests and the drivers urged the oxen to run headlong down. The rad is rough, with many stones. The carts lurched, causing extreme agony to the prisoners who were hung on the crosses by their arms and hair. The execution ground is a the foot of the hill. The guards took the prisoners from the crosses and tore off their clothes. The executioners tied their hair to the wooden beam and proceeded to cut off their heads."

The nine martyrs received their crown at three o'clock in the afternoon, the same time as Jesus breathed his last on the cross several tens of centuries. In accordance with the law the bodies were left at the execution site for three days.’”

It should be noted that the youngest of those who, without exception, embraced this horrific torture was only 13. Each was invited to turn away from their fate by rejecting Christ. They refused. We pray that we would be so steadfast facing similar situations but pray that we are never put to the test.

The Gospel of the Lord has reached to every part of the globe and on this day we ask for the intercession of the Saints of Korea – may their prayers strengthen us as we continue their work with our own humble witness.


[1] The picture used today is “The Korean Martyrs” Artist and Date are Unknown
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] From the library of

No comments: