02/09/2017, 15.03
JAPAN – VATICAN
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Fr Mario Bianchin: Justo Takayama Ukon, a model of imitable holiness

by Mario Bianchin

The "holy Samurai" was beatified on Tuesday. Out of the age of Japanese martyrs, "Takayama Ukon [. . .] presents the model of the testimony of life in Christ (martyrdom in fact), to which every believer in Christ is called.” The PIME regional superior in Japan gives his thoughts about the new Blessed.

Osaka (AsiaNews) – The beatification ceremony of Justo Takayama Ukon, the ‘holy samurai’, a noble son of Japan and martyr in Christ, took place on Tuesday in Osaka.

Among the many martyrs whose splendid witness has blessed the Japanese Church, Takayama Ukon highlights the "lifelong martyrdom" as a journey in the path of the Lord Jesus, the new "Lord" to whom the holy samurai vowed everlasting allegiance.

Fr Mario Bianchin, PIME regional superior in Japan, sent his thoughts about the Blessed to AsiaNews, emphasising the new Blessed’s "imitable holiness" for Japan and the world.

A Japanese Christian way of life

In his homily, Card Angelo Amato described Justo Takayama Ukon as "A Japanese model of Christian life for today, for all the world". The proclamation was made at a ceremony on Tuesday held in front of Osaka Castle. Some 10,000 people attended the event, including bishops and priests from around the world (especially Korea and the Philippines) as well as believers from all over Japan.

Known as 'the holy Samurai' (in fact, he was a daimyo or feudal lord), the new Blessed comes from an age long past, Japan’s so-called 'Christian Century', around 1600, when the Christian faith flourished for the first time in this extreme corner of Asia, the land of the Rising Sun, thanks to the work of Saint Francis Xavier.

His persona projects and therefore represents today a beautiful model of " imitable holiness," specifically for the Japanese, but also for the whole world. This is what makes the new Blessed a "gift" for the entire Church.

The cruel persecution that ended the first Christian springtime in Japan gave the young Church many holy martyrs, some well-known, like Saint Paul Miki and companions, crucified in Nagasaki in 1597 (Paul Miki came from the same city as Justo Takayama Ukon, Osaka). However, unlike the former, Takayama Ukon stands apart because of his "lifelong martyrdom", a journey in the path of the Lord Jesus, the new "Lord" to whom the new holy samurai swore everlasting allegiance.

This meant a lifelong martyrdom "for" Christ in faithful obedience to Him, in the darkness of faith that regularly turns into great light, the light that restores strength when giving oneself, rekindles hope in the heart, and revisits the soul with joy and peace on every occasion.

Takayama Ukon thus presents the model of the testimony of life in Christ (martyrdom in fact), to which every believer in Christ is called, and leads to ‘kenosis’, that is, the process of inner purification through giving oneself up and conform to the will of the Father, as did the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is in this sense that he also presents a model of "imitable" holiness that is also a viable model for the Japanese and for our times, because he offers his beautiful testimony whilst remaining within his Japanese and "existential" reality.

His is Paul’s “gradual” discovery in the journey after Damascus, moved by the revelation that God is present in him (cfr. Gal. 1:16), the discovery that God loves him and gives him the Son so that the life of his One Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus, may come into existence in him (Paul). This is what every believer in Christ discovers.

By giving his inner consent to this revelation, our Blessed, as when Jesus "forgives" his persecutors, enters into the dynamic of love of God himself.

Inside the assembly that proclaimed him Blessed right in front of the Osaka Castle, a reminder of the world and society in which the new Blessed bore witness, I thought I detected the rise of the universal prayer of the Church making the Gospel the Good News, proclamation of salvation to all humankind even today, on its path.

May he be for the Church in Japan and the world an incentive of a new missionary impulse, based on the joy of the Gospel, the joy to discover ourselves as "brothers" because we are children in the One Begotten Son, through participation in His death and resurrection, seed of eternal life.

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