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Monday, June 2, 2014

St Charles Lwanga and Companions

"Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace." Acts 20:24

One of the delights for Catholics in using the liturgical calendar regularly is that we get introduced to people from many different places and cultures around the world. Reading about St Francis Xavier one is led to the Far East: India, Japan and Indonesia. St Rose of Lima introduces believers to South America with its unique blending of indigenous and Spanish cultures, and each time we read (or visit!) these cultures we are changed, but we need also to be careful in this regard.

Unfortunately, there is little doubt that some Catholic missionary efforts arrogantly tried to impose a form of Christianity that was so embedded in Western European culture that it necessarily disrespected the cultures and religious traditions of the countries and people to whom they went in the name of the Gospel. Many countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, where there were large numbers of indigenous people, resisted Christianity for this reason. King Mwanga of Buganda (now southern Uganda) was on the resisters, and he had little patience with any person, group or any religion that he suspected of colonizing his people and nation in the name of God.

St Charles Lwanga, although a faithful government official in the Kingdom of Buganda, was martyred because King Mwanga, whom he served so faithfully, killed anyone who would not renounce their Christianity. Although Charles saw Christ and Christianity as a path to salvation and eternal life, King Mwanga was blind to anything that came from Europe and threatened his sovereignty. Enraged by the disobedience of his court officials, Mwanga killed Charles and at least fifty other Christians, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, because they refused to let go of something he found threatening. Do we push aside anything or anyone that calls us to change?

Today, ask the Lord to purify your heart so that you might proclaim the gospel with clarity and hope.

What do you think it means to be an everyday martyr?

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