Isn’t He the Carpenter’s Son?
Today is the Memorial of Paul Miki and Companions. Paul Miki was a Japanese Jesuit seminarian, martyr and saint, one of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan. He became a well-known and successful preacher, gaining many converts to Catholicism.
Because they feared the growing Jesuit influence, the local Japanese officials began to persecute Catholics. Miki was arrested and jailed with his fellow Catholics. They were forced on a march from Kyoto to Nagasaki. On February 5, 1597 at Nagasaki, Paul Miki was tied to a cross, his chest pierced with a lance. He preached his last sermon from that cross, forgiving his executioners. Twenty-five other clergy and laity were crucified with him. They were canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1862.
Mark’s gospel today has echoes of Luke’s reading from Sunday’s liturgy where all the people at first spoke highly of Jesus, then began to question: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” Jesus’ townspeople were not ready to believe in him because he had not first shown them the miracles they had heard of from other towns. As he taught, they could scarcely believe their ears, wondering where he got all his knowledge and how he possessed such wisdom. Jesus replied that no prophet is without honor except in his own town, by his own people. Mark tells us that Jesus became distressed by their lack of faith.
Jesus had to be profoundly grateful for the obvious and evident faith that Paul Miki and his companions showed, even in the throes of death. With arms outstretched on a cross, just as Jesus had done, Paul showed the depth and breadth of his love for God and gave his followers an unforgettable lesson in forgiveness. May we in some small way be able to follow his example in our lives.