Remain Steadfast in Faith

10-07-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. Chad King

All priests are required to pray the Office of Readings (the lay faithful are encouraged to pray them as well). In last week's bulletin, I shared how I was inspired by the second reading of the Office of Readings from Thursday, September 20th. It was from the final exhortation of Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn, priest and martyr. I included an excerpt from it and my reflections on whether we are Catholics/Christians in name only. Here is another excerpt from that exhortation, followed by my commentary:

Dearest brothers and sisters: when he was in the world, the Lord Jesus bore countless sorrows and by his own passion and death founded the Church; now he gives it increase through the sufferings of the faithful. No matter how fiercely the powers of this world oppress and oppose the Church, they will never bring it down. Ever since his ascension and from the time of the apostles to the present, the Lord Jesus has made his Church grow even in the midst of tribulation.

For the last fifty or sixty years, ever since the coming of the Church to our own land of Korea, the faithful have suffered persecution over and over again. Persecution still rages and as a result many who are friends in the household of the faith, myself among them, have been thrown into prison and like you are experiencing severe distress. Because we have become the one Body, should not our hearts be grieved for the members who are suffering? Because of the human ties that bind us, should we not feel deeply the pain of our separation?

But, as the Scriptures say, God numbers the very hairs on our head and in his all-embracing providence he has care over us all. Persecution, therefore, can only be regarded as the command of the Lord or as a prize he gives or as a punishment he permits.

Hold fast, then, to the will of God and with all your heart fight the good fight under the leadership of Jesus; conquer again the diabolical power of this world that Christ has already vanquished.

I beg you not to fail in your love for one another, but to support one another and to stand fast until the Lord mercifully delivers us from our trials.

There are twenty of us in this place and by God's grace we are so far all well. If any of us is executed, I ask you not to forget our families. I have many things to say, yet how can pen and paper capture what I feel? I end this letter. As we are all near the final ordeal, I urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach heaven and there rejoice together. I embrace you all in love.

(Pro Corea Documenta, ed. Mission Catholique Séoul, Séoul/Paris, 1938, vol. 1, 74-75)

My brothers and sisters, think about that reality. The Church was born out of the passion and death of Christ, and grew even more through the conversion of the apostles, and their willingness to even die for the faith of Jesus Christ. The faith of Christ and the Church continued and grew even after the apostles were persecuted and martyred. The Church grew even into communist China and Korea, and even through the persecution, the faith has persevered. Therefore, the Church has continued not only to exist, but to grow and thrive, even enduring much tribulation and persecution down through the centuries. It has grown because of the steadfastness and faithfulness of the Body of Christ. The question is, are you and I going to be steadfast and faithful in the midst of today's tribulation and persecution in the Church?

Even amid some bad leadership in the Church, will we hold fast and continue to "fight the good fight under the leadership of Jesus." Yes, Jesus is still Lord of His Church, He is still our Head and Leader, even though some of the Bishops, who are all called to represent Christ, have failed in their duty and vocation through their own sinfulness. Jesus is holding their leadership accountable. Are our hearts, though, staying strong in the faith and the true leadership of Christ as He leads His Church? God knows the personal sins as well as the honest mistakes of those bishops that He has put as shepherds and leaders of His Church. He knows their hearts and why they did what they did, and they are now being held accountable. As you may know, the good bishops and leaders of the Church are meeting in February with Pope Francis to help prevent such a wide-scale failing from happening again and to ensure better transparency in the hierarchy. There are many good bishops, being led by Cardinal DiNardo, President of USCCB, that will not rest until they can provide the transparency that the laity can be proud of, which will include holding the bishops accountable and investigating any wrong-doings free of any biases or persuasion.

I know that our Bishop Olmsted is working to improve communication so that you can be better informed about the proceedings and in order to provide greater openness and transparency. To this end, our diocese has recently developed a website: https://fidelity.dphx.org to show how it is "actively working to protect our children, to educate our families, and to bring healing to those who have been abused." I hope you feel proud that we live in a diocese where our shepherd is not only striving to be holy and transparent himself, but is also very active in consoling and praying for the healing of the victims and actively working with his good brother bishops to purify and rectify the Church in this scandal. We are blessed with Bishop Olmsted.

The question for you and I is: are we being steadfast in our faithfulness? I know that you have good hearts that want to bring healing to the Church. You want to stand up in solidarity with the victims, as well as take a stand against the cover-up by some of the bishops, and you are praying for the transparency in the hierarchy. Please know that I personally join you in each of these efforts. The best way for us to help bring healing to the Church is for us to be steadfast in our witness of the faith of Jesus Christ. We must let Jesus be the judge and juror. Knowing that He not only is Merciful, but at the same time, perfectly Just. We must be faithful in praying for the victims and for the transparency in the hierarchy. We must also continue to be examples and witnesses of the self-less love of God. Perhaps our steadfastness in faith and what we do for the good of others will be the example which helps another person overcome difficulties or doubts. Listen again to Andrew Paul Kim's exhortation, "I beg you not to fail in your love for one another, but to support one another and to stand fast until the Lord mercifully delivers us from our trials." The continued growth of the Church, even during the tribulation and persecution of this scandal in the Church, depends on our faithfulness.

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