June 3rd: The Uganda Martyrs – Saints for Today II


Modern Martyrs Commemorated at Westminster Abbey: L-R: the Polish Franciscan, Maximilian Kolbe, killed in the concentration camps; Manche Masemola, a South African teenager, murdered by her parents, ‘baptised in her own blood’, for converting to Christianity; and Janani Luwum, Anglican Archbishop of Kampala, Uganda, assassinated by order of President Amin, a modern Uganda martyr. Jean-Christophe Benoist, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WestminsterAbbey-Martyrs.jpg

How did the Uganda Martyrs come to be Christians? Young men from France and Britain, overflowing with the same love that springs out of the Triune God, had gone there to bring them the Good News about Jesus. Sadly, the two camps did not always see eye to eye and imported to Africa the divisions that the Church in Europe had long taken for granted. Now Pope Francis speaks of the Ecumenism of Blood, in the light of the thousands of modern martyrs of all denominations. This new Unity had been recognised by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster who commissioned the statues of modern martyrs for the facade of the Abbey in 1998.

Both Anglican and Catholic Christians died for the Faith, and as St John Paul II said in Uganda in 1993,

the Uganda Martyrs became light in the Lord! Their sacrifice hastened the rebirth of the Church in Africa. In our own days, all Africa is being called to the light of Christ!  All that is truly African, all that is true and good and noble in Africa’s traditions and cultures, is meant to find its fulfilment in Christ.

Your Martyrs joyfully shared with others the good news about the One who is “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14: 6). They understood that “faith is strengthened when it is given to others” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 2).The effects of Christ’s light must clearly be seen in the goodness of your lives! 

How best can we share the Good News in a very different world to that of Nineteenth Century Uganda? For most of us, most of the time, there are small steps we can take. Doing whatever we can as Churches Together, praying together for unity within and between Churches; looking happy, as though we believe the Gospel is Good News, a friendly word with whoever we meet.

You can find the text of Redemptoris Missio here:  http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_07121990_redemptoris-missio.html


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