Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Present Day Martyrs

Martyrdom has always been considered a way of showing our love for Jesus in the highest possible degree. Even though we are not threatened with  death, we try to imitate the martyr's zeal, deep faith, and  dignity. In the Desk Column for the Catholic Times, the writer mentions looking over the foreign  news items and was again conscious that religious persecution continues in our own day.

The Korean Church at the beginning had to endure four different persecutions. We have the 103 saints who are canonized and on the 16th of August, we will have 124 beatified; besides these, we have countless thousands who have no name. Today in most of the constitutions we have the freedom of religion as a human right, an understanding that a need to die for what one believes no longer is necessary, but  in Iraq, we see the Islamic State, fundamentalists, who have no problem in  killing Christians, confiscating their property and chasing them from their residences. The Chaldean Archbishop Amel Shanon Nona said the Islamic State is carrying out "religious cleansing."

She mentions that a representative of OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) said that 105,000 were killed because of the Christian faith on average each year. The situation in the Near East is the most serious. One research institute said the persecution in the Near East is the worst in the last 700 years. She quotes a London research group that says over half or two-thirds of the Christians   have been killed or made to flee their homeland in the last 100 years.  She says there are now less than 200 thousand who remain in the land of the Scriptures.

Pope Francis has mentioned the persecution and the seriousness of the situation. He said that there have been more martyrs in the last 100 years than in the times of the Roman persecution.

We as Koreans, she says, cannot overlook the persecution of religion in  North Korea. They say there is  freedom of religion but those who have studied the situation say that in 2013 to the present, we have over 1000 incidents of religious persecution in the North: most of them in the concentration camps. Open Doors Ministry lists  North Korea on the top of the ranking of countries persecuting Christians. She asks for prayers and the interest of her readers.

In a very short time, we will have 124 who will be called  Blessed. They considered their relationship with Jesus the most important thing in life and showed it by dying for what they believed. Korea is no longer asking us to give of our blood  in martyrdom, but we are faced with relativism, worldliness and materialism, which brings confusion into our way of thinking, and often  requirethe qualities of our martyrs.

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