In the 1800s, Andrew Kim became the first native Korean to become a priest when he traveled 1300 miles to seminary in China. He managed to find his way back into the country six years later. When he returned home, he arranged for more men to travel to China for studies. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded.
St. Paul Chong was a lay apostle who was also martyred. During the persecutions of 1839, 1846, 1866 and 1867, 103 members of the Christian community gave their lives for the faith. These included some bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay people, including men and women, married and unmarried, children, young people and the elderly. They were all canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II during a visit to Korea in 1984.
Our gospel today reminds us that those who hear and act on God’s word are the ones who are member’s of Christ’s family. This reminds me of yesterday’s Gospel which told us to “be careful how you hear.” We have to hear the words with hearts willing to do whatever it is that God asks of us. The Korean martyrs did this at the cost of their own lives. May we be as willing to give of ourselves today as they were in that day.