Saturday, February 6, 2010

St. Paul Miki

Paulo Miki was born and raised in a rich family in Takatsuki, Japan. He later joined the Jesuits. The Japanese government feared the Jesuit's influences and persecuted them. St. Paul Miki was jailed, along with others. He and his Catholic peers were forced to the 555 miles from Kyoto to Nagasaki, the city which had the most conversions to Christianity. There St. Paul Miki was crucified on 5 February 1597.

St. Francis Xavier had been the first of the missionaries to arrive in 1549 to Japan, when the country was in the midst of civil war.  At first they had been welcomed and even given land.  The Japanese language proved a great impediment, and the work of the missionaries became enmeshed in the struggle between Spain and France for domination in Asia. The people and the government turned on them  and today Japan is still only 2% Christian, but one beacon of that presence is Sophia, the Jesuit University in Tokyo.

Christianity has struggled from its beginnings with its relationship to politics and the balance of Mark 12:17 "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" and there is no simple answer. We are called to be involved in the problems of the world, and that requires political action. And yet, the Church cannot be seen as being allied to any particular political party.  This requires that as individuals and as groups we continuously allow the truth of the gospel to critique our political positions.

May the intercession of St. Paul Miki aid us as we continue that work.