Tìm Kiếm

17 tháng 11, 2014

Homily for the Solemnity of the Holy Martyrs in Viet Nam (November 16, 2014)


Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the holy martyrs in Viet Nam.  Who are the holy martyrs in Viet Nam?

They are thousand and thousand men and women died for their faith in Christ Jesus during the early days of Christian mission in Viet Nam, from the XVI through the XIX centuries. Of those victims of persecution and oppression against religious freedom, 118 were canonized as heroes of the Catholic Church by the great Saint John Paul II in 1988.

The suffering and death of the holy martyrs remind us of this reality that we, Christians, do not belong to the world.  Christ told His disciples of this truth in order that they should not try in vain to compromise their faith as though they were able to serve God and Caesar on the same ground and at the same time.

We are living in the world and we, as citizens of the world, have rights and obligations toward the world.  But, in dealing with this double responsibility, we get the guidance from the Lord’s crystal-clear teaching: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what is God’s.”  This means without any confusion that the only choice which Christians must make, sometimes at so high a cost, even that of their own lives, is faithfulness to God.

It is pretty ironic, as Christ taught us this in the Gospel Reading which we have just listened to, that the more violent the world hate campaign turns, the prouder the believers in Christ feel, for this is the very convincing proof that they belong to Christ.  ““If the world hates you, realize that it hates me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

Pope Francis also taught something similar saying that there would be no problem with others with whom you work for the poor, the sick, the victims of of forms of social illness.  But when you tell them the reason for your unconditional commitment, they no longer show you the same welcoming reaction as they did a while ago.

The examples of bravery left us by the holy martyrs send us this message that in any of the unfavorable circumstances occurring in today’s society where we, Christians, are doing our job as light of the world, salt of the earth, leaven in the dough, we should not lose our hearts or give up our living witness to the saving and liberating Good News of Christ.

We are called to speak out—sometimes not necessarily by word of mouth—the truth against all forms of injustice, violation of human dignity and rights, no matter who the criminals may be.

Only by living up to the spirit of fearless service of Christ’s just cause with which the holy martyrs inspire us can we be held worthy of their heroic sacrifices, and thus our celebration of their victory meaningful.