The Feast of St. Christopher Magallanes

Mark 9: 38-40
Jas 4: 1-17 / Ps 49: 2-3, 6-11

There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. 40For whoever is not against us is for us.
(Mark 9:40)

Nothing in life drives us more than
The hope of eternal reward;
No treasure, power or fame can,
Nothing can count more than God’s Word.

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him, because he does not follow us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38-40)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage reminds me of the time our BCBP chapter was opening an outreach in a city in Southern Cotabato. For three years our mission director and his team tried to get the blessing of the bishop so that the mission team could begin organizing the core group and hold the twice monthly breakfast fellowships in that city. But the good prelate would not even assign a priest to observe our meetings, much less favor us with the celebration of the holy mass, unless our Brotherhood submitted completely to the jurisdiction of his diocese. Our chapter’s governance tried to explain to the bishop that we have our own charter and by-laws, recognized and endorsed by the Church hierarchy, and that our lay organization was in fact committed to serve the Catholic faith, encouraging our members to receive the sacraments regularly, and support their parish financially. To no avail. Although submission to authority is one of the principles of our Brotherhood, we had to discern whether to proceed or not in opening that outreach in Cotabato without the blessing of the bishop. We finally decided to go ahead, because we were submitting to a higher authority, that of the Holy Spirit. It took our chapter three years before we finally decided to exercise our free will. The outreach is now managing on its own even without the support of the diocese.

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Cristobal, or St. Christopher Magallanes. He and his 24 fellow martyrs were persecuted by an anti-Catholic government in Mexico during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-1928). His administration closed down Catholic churches, schools and seminaries, and expelled foreign missionaries from Mexico. But St. Christopher and his team refused to be cowed. He established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco, where he and other priests ministered secretly to the people of the faith. Eventually the Mexican government arrested him on the false charge of rebellion, and convicted him to death. He died forgiving his executioners, victorious in keeping the Catholic faith alive in the country of Mexico.

Father God, we thank You for martyrs like St. Christopher Magallanes, whose lives continue to inspire us to struggle, and if needed, to die for spreading the Good News of Your beloved Son. As Jesus Christ said, “Anyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Mt.10:32-33). Lord, we pray for our misguided leaders who employ their authority in preventing others from “casting out demons in His Name.” Amen.

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