Today marks the memorial for St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, martyrs. This is an ecumenical remembrance in that many of these martyrs were members of the Anglican and Lutheran churches as well as Roman Catholic, and are memorialized by all three.
In the late 19th century, the Ugandan king led a massacre of Anglican missionaries, against which Charles Lwanga spoke out. Even more, in the face of this Christian persecution, Lwanga asked to be baptized as a Christian. Ultimately, he and over 20 men and boys –all were in service to the royal court — were put to death because they refused to renounce their Christian fidelity.
The last line of the first reading from Tobit reminds us that “all your festivals shall be turned into mourning; all your songs into lamentation.” Yet our recognition through Grace of the gift of martyrdom is more circular: our mourning and lamentation are also turned into feasting.
In times of regret and sadness, how readily do I recognize and celebrate God’s gift of redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ?
—Fr. Glen Chun, S.J. is minister of the Loyola University Jesuit Community, Chicago, and also serves on the vocations staff for the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus