Wisdom 3:1-9; Psalm 125(126):1-6; Luke 9:23-26
For many hundreds of years, the faith in Korea was maintained in great secrecy - for any faith was brutally repressed - and it is thought that over 10,000 were martyred for the faith. Yet there was not a single Priest there. Christians were covertly baptised whilst on overseas visits and the faith was passed on amongst the laity. They took up the responsibility to nurture the faith God had given them, and did not rely on others to carry them.
Despite this repression, when priests did come they found a large number of faithful, and the church grew. Nevertheless martyrdoms continued, and these are the martyrs who are remembered on this day - 103 of them, mostly Lay men and women, including some children. They however do represent the thousands who are not remembered in any lists.
Our recent changes in diocesan structure are on a local level barely noticeable - but elsewhere in the UK there are parishes closing, and Mass attendance is falling. This does not necessarily mean that our faith is dying out - but we do perhaps need to think about how we care for those left (especially in rural areas) with no regular Sunday Mass, no priest to call when in need. Above all we need to pray, as that community in Korea did, because if we do God will send workers to the harvest! And we need to pray for our Priests as their work becomes ever more difficult caring for larger numbers of Parishioners and Parishes.