6 February 2009. St. Paul Miki, Joan Soan de Goto, James Kisai and companions
Hebrew 13, 1-8; Psalm 27; Mark 6, 14-29
The reading from the letter to the Hebrews is taken from Chapter 13, which are various exhortations and practical instructions. It tells us about the importance of brotherly/sisterly love, hospitality, concern for prisoners and the suffering, fidelity in marriage, and avoiding love of money. The list tells us about living a holy life. Practical Christian conduct flows from one’s understanding of the person and saving work of Christ. We cannot be indifferent; it is pro-active.
And no matter who teaches Christian life, whether in the past or present, the content of their proclamation, Jesus Christ, remains forever. This is the reason of verse 8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Martyrs, like St. John the Baptist (Gospel today) and Jesuits’ St. Paul Miki and companions, are remembered by the faithful. They may have passed away, but their lives remain as example of faith. Generations of church leaders may come and go, but their teaching about Jesus remains the same.
Does this mean that our teaching is static? In our relationship with persons, our knowledge of them develops and deepens as we continually reflect on what they say, how they do things, their reasoning, their decision-making process. As our relationships move on in time, we get to know about them more and more. This knowledge may be articulated and expressed in language like bio-data facts, events, family background, likes and dislikes. But there is another type of knowledge that is wrought by constant companionship. This knowledge is called, “tacit knowledge”. For example, we can give a person a step-by-step procedure on how to bake a cake, but the person does not learn unless he does it. What cannot be articulated is tacit knowledge — we know our friend, because we have spent time with them. But that person is the same person as yesterday, today and tomorrow. That is why, when we reflect on Jesus and apply his teaching to our practical lives, we ask “What would Jesus do if He were present today?” This question involves two things: a deep knowledge of the person and saving work of Christ, and a knowledge of the present. Vatican II calls all of us, to ‘read the signs of the times’ — to look at the world as God sees it.