Christmas and New Year Message
Dec 25, 2008
Wishing you a joyful celebration of the Birth of our Lord Jesus and many Blessings for the New Year.
The year 2008 was a period of many special blessings for the Archdiocese of Tokyo and for all of us.
The Beatification Ceremony for Blessed Peter Kibe and 187 martyrs was held this year at Nagasaki in Japan, on the 24th of November. During this grace-filled season,Ｉinvite you to join in praying that through the intercession of these martyrs, our merciful Lord will continue to pour forth the Holy Spirit upon us. The Holy Spirit will enlighten our paths and guide us into God’s way, so that each one of us will work more devotedly for the evangelization of Japan through imitation of the martyrs’ virtues.
These 188 martyrs lived 400 years ago in the early Edo period when ordinary life circumstances were totally different from the present day. So it is a challenge for us to compare our way of life with theirs, to think about what our lives should be, and how can we renew our lives in the light of the martyrs’ witness.
As I reflect on the lives of these martyrs, their existence takes on greater clarity and the outline of their lives become solid and clear. For example, one of the martyrs of Edo was John Mondo Hara. His great determination and final testimony can still make a strong impact on our present world. My deep feeling response to their lives is surely a result of their own earnest faith.
In our modern world many people are seeking for greater meaning in their lives; they, including children, struggle on against weakness of self denial and despair.
In the 400 years since those days, we the living body of the same Catholic Church have been supported by the intercession of the martyrs. They have encouraged us to bear witness to our faith more firmly and confidently, so that we can be signs of hope and encouragement to the people around us.
It is impressive to hear of the strong bonds joining the martyrs to their faith community and to their families. Within the family relationships, the mothers and wives, as always, had a central role. There were great strains placed on the bonds of family and church during the persecutions, but the lives of the martyrs and their families reveal to us vividly that they helped, supported and respected each other in spite of the very difficult times. On this point we the modern church have much to learn from them.
People of this modern age also experience wilderness, so to speak, suffering from isolation and loneliness. The church needs to become an oasis in the desert for these people. As long as we cultivate strong bonds with one another, creating a spirit of warmth and trust within the church, many people will discover that the church is a place of rest and salvation.
I wish to renew my request to you my brothers & sisters of Tokyo Archdiocese to pray together for the common intention of our church in this season of Christmas 2008 and New Year 2009.