Today’s feast honors the martyrdom of 26 martyrs in Japan, including Jesuit St. Paul Miki. They were crucified for the faith in Nagasaki on February 5, 1597. Paul Miki, a Jesuit scholastic only 35 years old, was joined in death by a Jesuit brother and another scholastic, six Franciscans, and many lay persons, including children.

In truth these martyrs were “sent forth” just as each of us are, invited to use their time and talents in Jesus’ name for ordinary daily service and witness. Caught in the political turmoil of the times, they ended up giving their lives in witness to the gospel. Our own lives may not be as dramatic, nor will we be invited to martyrdom. Yet we are invited in small ways (and sometimes in larger matters) to speak up, to make a difference, to mend a quarrel, to sit and listen even when inconvenient, to offer a hand in a time of need. Along this journey, it is God’s grace and strength that power us and give us hope.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team