If I had stuck with my print breviary today I'd have missed the Office of Readings for St. Andrew Kim Taegon and companions. (aka Korean martyrs). This memorial was added to the universal calendar recently, so our print breviaries do not contain its propers. The second reading is St. Kim's farewell exhortation from prison. It includes this statement:
"The Lord is like a farmer and we are the field of rice that he fertilizes with his grace and by the mystery of the incarnation and the redemption irrigates with his blood, in order that we will grow and reach maturity."
That field of rice is a small but sweet reminder of how the Church can adapt to and serve any people and culture. He continues:
Dearest brothers and sisters: when he was in the world, the Lord Jesus bore countless sorrows and by his own passion and death founded his Church; now he gives it increase through the sufferings of his faithful. No matter how fiercely the powers of this world oppress and oppose the Church, they will never bring it down. Ever since his ascension and from the time of the apostles to the present, the Lord Jesus has made his Church grow even in the midst of tribulations.
For the last fifty or sixty years, ever since the coming of the Church to our own land of Korea, the faithful have suffered persecution over and over again. Persecution still rages and as a result many who are friends in the household of the faith, myself among them, have been thrown into prison and like you are experiencing severe distress. Because we have become the one Body, should not our hearts be grieved for the members who are suffering? Because of the human ties that bind us, should we not feel deeply the pain of our separation?
But, as the Scriptures say, God numbers the very hairs of our head and in his all-embracing providence he has care over us all. Persecution, therefore, can only be regarded as the command of the Lord or as a prize he gives or as a punishment he permits.
Hold fast, then, to the will of God and with all your heart fight the good fight under the leadership of Jesus; conquer again the diabolical power of this world that Christ has already vanquished.
Andrew Kim was martyred in 1839. But his words might have been written by St.Perpetua in the year 203, or by Blessed Miguel Pro in 1927. Or any of the blessed thousands (millions?) known and unknown to history, who gave their lives for Christ and His Church.