St. Andrew Dung-Lac was a priest in Vietnam in the early nineteenth century. He and his 116 companions, including Spanish Dominicans, members of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, and 96 Vietnamese, including 36 other priests, were all martyred around the year 1839. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were martyred in Vietnam during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.
“They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.” That ominous news from today’s Gospel is news that Saint Andrew and his companions had to actually endure in their lives. That can have us shaking with fear, but that fear must never distract us from our mission, or else the fear has won. St. Andrew and his companions never gave in to the fear, and willingly gave their lives for the faith.
As our Church year ends, may we take courage from the example of the Vietnamese martyrs and courageously rededicate ourselves to witnessing to the faith, regardless of the cost.