Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 24, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The response of the one leper who returned to glorify God and thank Jesus reminds us about the true nature of gratitude. True gratitude focuses on the greatness of the giver rather than the gift. When a woman, for instance, receives a proposal of marriage, a little box typically accompanies the proposal as a gift. When she opens the box she sees that it is a diamond ring and she knows that the diamond signifies proposal of marriage. Generally she will make some glad noise and perhaps demonstrate happiness at the gift with some physical act. But then the next thing she does is find the giver of the gift to embrace him and kiss him and express gratitude to him. How distressingly unintelligible it would be if that woman opened the box, saw the ring, and then celebrated the ring with no acknowledgment of the giver. Yet when we are grateful for the gifts of God without being grateful for the God who gave the gifts, we do act in a way that makes no sense. True gratitude leads us to love God more for who God is than for what God has done. False gratitude expresses love to God out of a belief that this is the key to more blessing. It is like the person who expresses gratitude for a Christmas gift not because she or he appreciates the love and affection which prompted the gift, but because they know if they don’t express their thanks, they might not receive another gift.

Saint of the day: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951 and now have been canonized in recent decades. Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.

The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful.

Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.

Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons.

The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.

By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes, and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.

During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.

Spiritual reading: I am gently going to my grave. It is the will of God, and I thank Him very much for letting me die of the same disease and in the same way as my lepers. I am very satisfied and very happy. (Damien of Molokai)

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