Ordinary time week 9 Tobit 6,10-11; 7,1-9; 8,4-9; Mk 12, 28-34
Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions (- 1885/7). Many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, were killed by the Ugandan king Mwanga. Some were servants in the king’s palace others his personal attendants. Charles Lwanga and his twenty-one companions (the youngest, Kizito, was only 13) were executed for being Christians, for rebuking the king for his debauchery and for murdering an Anglican missionary, for “praying from a book,” and for refusing to allow themselves to be ritually sodomised by the king. They died between 1885 and 1887. Most were burned alive in a group after being tortured. Within a year of their deaths, the number of catechumens in the country quadrupled. St Charles Lwanga is the patron of Catholic Action and of black African youth, and the Ugandan martyrs’ feast day is a public holiday in Uganda.
Celebrating the Ugandan martyrs seems to have little link to the celebration of a Golden Wedding Anniversary. Both however speak loudly of sacrifice. In the case of Jesus and the Ugandan Martyrs their offering involved a brutal and bloody death –a blood offering; blood being the symbol of life. In the eucharist the wine become the Blood of Christ. Christ shares his life with us completely. This same loving sacrifice, this offering of life in love is equally present in marriage. The Pope’s letter on the family states:
Marriage is a precious sign, for “when a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God is, as it were, ‘mirrored’ in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is also communion: the three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: God makes of the two spouses one single existence”. This has concrete daily consequences, because the spouses, “in virtue of the sacrament, are invested with a true and proper mission, so that, starting with the simple ordinary things of life they can make visible the love with which Christ loves his Church and continues to give his life for her”. Or as the Gospel states:
Happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God.
by Fr Thomas O'BRIEN a.a