Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 24, 2014

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated 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. Remember the word I spoke to you, 690d8bc540d9767c4efc60de98d0eef8_w600‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Life was hard for Jesus. He was born into a family that had a subsistence living in a remote corner of an occupied country that suffered terrible oppression. He had no place to lay his head, and he sometimes foraged for his meals. In the end, he died a hideous death no one would invite. No one in this world–be they very rich or very poor, be they physically attractive or not–no one in this world gets out of this life without suffering. If no slave is greater than his master, and Jesus suffered in his life, what complaint can we offer in justice for the sorrows–both the large ones and the small–we have had to endure. If we suffer, there is some consolation to know that God suffered with us, and God suffered before us.

Saint of the day: On this day, May 24, 2014, Fr. Mario Vergara and Isidore Ngei Ko Lat, a priest and a lay person, are being beatified on the 64th anniversary of their martyrdoms. Fr. Mario Vergara was born in Frattamaggiore (Aversa) in November 1910. In 1929, after studying at the Jesuit minor seminary in Posillipo, he was admitted to the PIME seminary in Monza. In August 1933, he was admitted to the PIME novitiate in Sant’Ilario Ligure under the guidance of Fr Emilio Milani, who was a missionary in China. On August 26, 1934 he was ordained priest by Card Ildefonso Schuster in the church of Bernareggio. By the end of September, he had joined the PIME mission in Burma. At that time, the country was a British colony. Upon his arrival, Fr. Vergara was greeted by Bishop Sagrada, apostolic vicar in Toungoo. In 1936, he was entrusted with the care of the mountainous district of Citaciò, home to a Karen tribe, the Soku, one of the poorest and most primitive in Burma.

1399003665Here Fr. Vergara fine-tuned his missionary method. He thus brought the catechesis to all the villages, celebrated the sacraments and established various training and aid activities, including an orphanage for 82 Burmese children and a sanatorium. In 1941, after the outbreak of the Second World War, he was interned in British concentration camps in India along with other Italian missionaries, deemed “fascists” by the British. After four years during which he experienced health problems and had a kidney removed, he was released and travelled by train across India to Delhi and Hyderabad. In the fall of 1946, he got back to Burma. In December, Bishop Lanfranconi sent him to the Kayah-Karen Mountains, east of Loikaw, where alone he rebuilt the mission that the war had swept away. He taught catechesis in the villages and built medical posts and clinics. Starting in September 1948, another young PIME missionary, Fr. Pietro Galastri joined him.

After Burma’s independence in 1948, the places where Fr. Mario, Fr. Piero and their catechists operated saw fighting break out between local groups trying to assert their various traditions, religious beliefs and ideologies. Still, he did not slow down. Instead, he travelled on foot to distant communities and brought care to mountain people, without distinction of religion, and this despite the fact that some rebel forces had started to persecute Catholics. Against this background, Fr Vergara came to the defence of the oppressed, sparking hatred Baptist rebels. Soon, the situation worsened. On May 24, 1950 he was arrested together with master catechist Isidore Ngei Ko Lat. The two were killed by rebels the next day and their bodies, placed in a bag, were thrown into the Salween River.

Spiritual reading: Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. (Isak Dinesen)

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