The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Sonny de Rivera, SVD (Rome)
Feast of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, September 28
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, whose feast we celebrate today, was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard while working as a clerk at Binondo church in the Philippines. Seeking asylum, he, with other missionaries, boarded a ship and left for Okinawa, Japan, where they were thrown into prison, and later transferred to Nagasaki to face trial by torture. He told the court, “Even if I had many thousands of lives, I would offer them all for Him. Never shall I apostatize. You may kill me if that is what you want. To die for God, such is my will.” On September 27, 1637, Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions were taken to Nishizaka Hill, where they were tortured and hung upside down in a pit. He died from blood loss and suffocation.
During the canonization of Lorenzo Ruiz, the slogan was: To die for the faith is a gift to some; to live the faith is a call to all. Embedded in the living out of one’s faith is the element of sacrifice.
Jesus’ missionary journey is characterized by a series of events of being unwelcome, as exemplified in the gospel of Lk 9:51-56 (Tuesday 26th Week in Ordinary Time) when he was not allowed to enter a Samaritan village. In Jesus’ lifetime, he was criticized, derided, falsely accused, and finally crucified on the cross.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz reminds us that the crosses we embrace have not been imposed upon us by different circumstances in life beyond our control. His readiness to die for his faith tells us that the cross is our identity as believers. He invites us to embrace these moments and offer them to God. By the way, is it not the Lord who asked us to pick up our cross and follow him?