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Follow the martyrs’ example of sacrifice and love, Pope tells 800,000 Koreans

Catholic World News - August 18, 2014

On August 16, the third full day of his apostolic journey to South Korea, Pope Francis visited the Shrine of the Martyrs of Seo So mun before celebrating Mass for the beatification of Paul Yun Ji-Chung (1759-91) and 123 martyr companions.

An estimated 800,000 people attended the Mass, which took place at Gwanghwamun Gate in Seoul. During his homily, Pope Francis emphasized the martyrs’ willingness to make sacrifices for their faith:

Soon after the first seeds of faith were planted in this land, the martyrs and the Christian community had to choose between following Jesus or the world. They had heard the Lord’s warning that the world would hate them because of him (Jn 17:14); they knew the cost of discipleship. For many, this meant persecution, and later flight to the mountains, where they formed Catholic villages. They were willing to make great sacrifices and let themselves be stripped of whatever kept them from Christ – possessions and land, prestige and honor – for they knew that Christ alone was their true treasure.

So often we today can find our faith challenged by the world, and in countless ways we are asked to compromise our faith, to water down the radical demands of the Gospel and to conform to the spirit of this age. Yet the martyrs call out to us to put Christ first and to see all else in this world in relation to him and his eternal Kingdom. They challenge us to think about what, if anything, we ourselves would be willing to die for.

Pope Francis also emphasized the martyrs’ example of charity:

It was the purity of their witness to Christ, expressed in an acceptance of the equal dignity of all the baptized, which led them to a form of fraternal life that challenged the rigid social structures of their day. It was their refusal to separate the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor which impelled them to such great solicitude for the needs of the brethren. Their example has much to say to us who live in societies where, alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded; and where Christ continues to call out to us, asking us to love and serve him by tending to our brothers and sisters in need.

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