The church’s liturgical calendar marks today as commemorating “St. Paul Miki and Companions.” Paul Miki, a native Japanese convert to Catholicism and a member of the Society of Jesus, was among twenty-six religious and lay missionaries who were sentenced to death by the Emperor of Japan. Miki and two Jesuits were martyred on February 5, 1597, but they were not the only ones martyred that day. There were twenty-three others, all of whom were Franciscans – some members of the First Order (Franciscan friars) and others members of the Third Order (Secular Franciscans). Several of the Franciscans were later canonized as saints: Peter Baptist, Martin of the Ascension, Francis Blanco, Philip of Jesus, Gonsalvo Garzia, and Francis of St. Michael.
“St. Paul Miki and Companions.” Too often we never ask about or remember the “companions.” In this commemoration, the seventeen lay people who gave their lives for Christ and their trust in Him.
So, yes the Jesuits and Franciscans celebrate their brethren, but even more importantly let us give thanks for the lay women and men whose work on behalf of others – schools, and hospitals, and activities in support of the poor and hungry. All were active doing what was theirs to do.