Celebrating the Life and Martyrdom of ‘Blessed Takayama of Manila’ on 406th Anniversary

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Archdiocese of Manila, celebrating Takayama Memorial Mass on Feb. 3, 2021. (Photo: Iñigo Maravilla)


►There are some aspects of our readings that apply very clearly to our Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon.

In our Gospel, Jesus went to his native place, Nazareth. And the people of Nazareth recognized that he was extraordinary, where did her get all this? They recognized his wisdom. They recognized his mighty deeds – the cures that he did all over the place. And yet they took offense at him. They were not able to accept him. In fact their familiarity with him – they knew his family, they knew his relatives – prevented them from seeing him as sent by the Lord. Really what the prophet said, “that the prophet is not accepted in his own household, in his own family, in his own place” – was true of Jesus. And also true of our Takayama Ukon.

He was not accepted by his own people. By his own leaders. This is why he was exiled. He was too high in society to be executed. So, they just sent him into exile. They could not keep him in his place. He was an irritant for them, because of his faith, because of his attitude. They recognized that he was different. That he was special. And they could not accept him. So, although our Blessed (Takayama Ukon) has not literally shed his blood, yet he was considered as a martyr. Because his suffering and his death was caused by the rejection of the people. Rejection not only of him, but rejection of the faith that he carries, and the faith that tries to live to the full.

Also in our First Reading, although the writer of the letters said to the Christians – to the Jewish Christians – who were being persecuted. That your struggle has not led to the shedding of blood. But remember, that many of the Christians at that time has already shed their blood because of the faith. So, the writer told the Jewish Christians to hang on and to see their own tribulations as discipline of the Lord. And the Lord disciplines them because they are his children. Because He loves them.

And He compares the discipline and the trials that we receive to the discipline that parents give to their children. And they do so, because they want them to be better. They want them to grow up well, so He disciplines them. And this also how we should look at the trials that we are undergoing – it’s a sign of God’s love. It’s not absence of the care of God. It’s a sign of God’s love. And that might have been the attitude of Blessed Takayama Ukon at the disciplines, at the trials that he had to undergo in his society. Because of his commitment to the faith. And he was faithful as the letter to the Hebrews were telling the Christians to be faithful in spite of these trials. And because of these trials, Blessed Justo was faithful up to the end. He was not resentful. He accepted the faith. That’s why the Spanish and the Filipinos when they received him here, they were surprised at his peace of mind, at his calmness, in spite of what happened to him that he being exiled here. So, the letter to the Jewish Christians, “strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees so that they may be healed and not dislocated.” And at another point, the letter told the Jewish Christians – “strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Celebrated under pandemic restrictions, the Memorial Mass for Blessed Takayana was officiated by Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo at the UST Chapel. (Photo: Raul Roque)

How true this is also of Blessed Justo, in spite if the persecution that he suffered, he tried to make peace. He made a lot of concessions, even his own dignity, even his own possessions, just to have peace. And in all this, he really tried to be holy. So, it is no wonder that he is now elevated to the altar, because of his effort to be holy. Holiness that he was able to achieve because of his fidelity to Christ. And it was that fidelity was somehow put to the test for decades – several decades – four decades of his holiness in spite of the trials that he was undergoing. So it is but right, that we remember him today, his feast day, and we ask for his help that we too may have that kind of fidelity in front of difficulties. And during this pandemic, we all are experiencing difficulties. In fact, many of us would want to be here in order to celebrate this Mass, but we would just be contented with the online reception of the Holy Mass. And that’s already a kind of a frustration that we feel. And there are still so many activities, and good activities that we could not do because of the limitations that this Corona virus is giving to us. Let us offer this to the Lord. And this can be also a way for our own sanctification.

May the example of our saint strengthen us. May his prayers also help us, that we may follow in that striving towards holiness — without which we cannot see the Lord.#

Transcribed by Raul Roque
Auxiliary, Missionary Disciples for the New Evangelization

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