As today we celebrate the lives of St Andrew Dung-Lac and companions, Fr Paul reads the Gospel from Luke (21: 12-19), in which Jesus tells his disciples, “I will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of opponents will be able to contradict or resist”.
Fr Paul says today’s Gospel is very appropriate for the lives that we are celebrating. The evangelization of Vietnam began in the 16th century and since that time persecution after persecution happened again and again and again against the Christians. It is said that over 130,000 clergy and people were killed for their faith.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century there are records in relation to 117 of these people, who have been beautified by John Paull II in 1988, hence, the title of today’s Feast St Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions.
Fr Paul says, if you break this number of 117 down by nationality – 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spanish and 10 were French. He says, if you take this number by status – 8 were bishops, 50 were priests and 59 were lay men and women. To emphasis the brutality that these people endured for their faith, Fr Paul says, if we look at how they were put to death it becomes quite evident and quite sobering – 75 were beheaded, 22 were strangled, 6 were burned alive, 5 were torn to pieces while they were still alive and 9 died of torture in prison – all because they held steadfast to their faith and professed themselves as Christian.
In light of today’s Gospel, Fr Paul says we might reflect on our own witness that we give to our Christianity in our world, here and now, and in the tradition of our Church we ask that St Andrew Dung-Lac & Companions, pray for us.