October 12, 2008 28th Sunday Year A

SScripture: Isaiah 25:6-10
Philippians 4:12-14,19-20

The theme of these readings is 'banquet'. In Scripture the 'banquet theme' is a symbol of God's warm companionship.
Today I write about a Japanese man who had a warm companionship with Jesus. He is Peter Kibe, one of the 188 Japanese to be beatified on November 24 in Nagasaki. The winner of the Beijing Olympic Marathon, Kenyan Samuel Wajiru, said that in his 6 years' stay in Japan he learnt Japanese 'gaman', i.e. stoic self command. It is a special trait in Japan. There is a special word in the New Testament, used 45 times -'endurance'" (Greek:hupomone). It is a gentle word often coupled with life, joy, hope. God gives this gift; it is God who gives us courage to endure joyfully. But God builds on our natural gifts.

Peter Kibe is an encouraging example.  He was born in 1587 in Urabe, Oita, on the Inland Sea.  From his youth he knew the sea and boats. 1587 was the very year of Hideyoshi's first notice of persecution of Christians.  At 13 Peter went to the seminary, but did not graduate.  Again at 27 he still felt this strong urge to be a priest, so he sailed to Macao, then to Goa in India.  He was refused admittance, but he still felt this strong call to be a priest to help his persecuted brothers and sisters.
Now follows and example of Christian endurance.  Peter walked about 5,000 kilometers, over three years to Jerusalem. He travelled in dangerous times through present day India, Pakistan,Iraq,Iran,Jordan,through mountain and desert. In Jerusalem(probably the first pilgrim from Japan)Peter walked in the footsteps of Jesus. Peter realized that in all his journeys he was never alone. The words of Jesus: "lFear not! I am with you" meant a lot to Peter Kibe.
From Jerusalem he went on to Rome, knocked at the door of the Headquarters of the Jesuit Fathers, and asked to be a priest and a Jesuit.
Within 6 months he was both! That is how the Jesuit superiors saw this mature man of endurance. Peter was 33.
Peter Kibe returned to Japan by ship. From Lisbon, around the Cape of Good Hope, to Mozambique, to Goa, to Malacca, to Ayutthaya, to Macao to Manila. He was shipwrecked three times!
In Manila he bought a small, old boat and with another sailed to Kagoshima. He wrote: "Trusting in a wind from God, we hoist our sails. I return for the salvation of my brothers and sisters."
Peter Kibe worked as a missionary for 9 years in Mizusawa, Iwate prefecture. He was betrayed by a friend, taken to Edo for interrogation and torture. He was condemned to death because he would not deny his faith or priesthood. He died by being suspended upside down. Indeed fortitude, perseverance, endurance is a gift from God.
Peter Kibe was 100% Japanese, 100% Christian. Let us ask Jesus to give us the gift of endurance knowing that He is there to fortify us. Let us trust our God and raise our sails with hope and sail on the journey of life.

Jesus said:"You will be betrayed... but not a hair of your head will be lost.... your endurance will give you life" Luke 21.

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