Today is the memorial of St Paul Miki SJ (1564-1597), a Jesuit novice from a noble Japanese family who was martyred along with 25 companions at Nagasaki in 1597.
This is from an eyewitness account of the execution:
“Our brother Paul Miki, seeing himself raised to the most honourable position that he had ever occupied, openly proclaimed that he was a Japanese and a member of the Society of Jesus. And that he was being put to death for having preached the Gospel. He gave thanks to God for such a precious favour.
He then added these words: “Having arrived at this moment of my existence, I believe that no one of you thinks I want to hide the truth. That is why I declare to you that there is no other way of salvation than the one followed by Christians. Since this way teaches me to forgive my enemies and all who have offended me, I willingly forgive the king and all those who have desired my death. And I pray that they will obtain the desire of Christian baptism.
At this point, he turned his eyes toward his companions and began to encourage them in their final struggle. The faces of them all shone with great gladness. Another Christian shouted to him that he would soon be in paradise. “Like my Master,” murmured Paul, “I shall die upon the cross. Like him, a lance will pierce my heart so that my blood and my love can flow out upon the land and sanctify it to his name.
As they awaited death the entire group sang the canticle of Zachary (see Luke 1:67-79). The executioners stood by respectfully until they had intoned the last verse. Then at a given signal they thrust their spears into the victims’ sides. On that day, February 5, 1597, the church of Japan welcomed its first martyrs.”
You have heard that it was said: “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’……Matthew 5:43-44
Consider the people who dislike you, who oppose your ideas and aims. How can you show love to them?