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Rome – “The Samurai of Christ, Justo Takayama Ukon – beatified on February 7, 2017 in Osaka – lived an authentic, honest, sincere, and deep Christian life. He was recognized as a martyr, even though he was not killed. He was persecuted and had to abandon all his wealth and social status. His example is very important and valuable to us. It is significant for the faithful of our time. We, Japanese Bishops personally thanked the Holy Father for the beatification. That is why we came to the Vatican, and we are also happy to remember and celebrate the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Holy See and Japan”: says to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami at the head of the Archdiocese of Nagasaki and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Japan.
“Christians in Japan need to look up to and learn from Ukon”, notes the Archbishop. “Perhaps because of Japan’s mentality and culture” – he explains -“our faithful are reluctant to talking about their Christian faith to others. Today we need a more explicit Gospel proclamation. Let us remember that Ukon was very happy to have received from God the gift of the Christian faith and talked about it to all the people around him: friends, subjects, acquaintances. And many of them approached faith through these words. In this sense Ukon is an example to follow. There is in the common mentality the belief that faith is almost a ‘family affair’, that only in an already Catholic family there can be new baptized. It is necessary to overcome this paradigm”.
Moreover, the Archbishop adds, “Ukon always put God in first place. He preferred the Lord Jesus Christ to his property, to the well-being of life without any doubt. This example today makes us think of how many times material possessions separate us from God. Every day a baptized must choose God and too easily the Japanese, in a secular society, give priority to tangible goods: that is the first concern”.
In today’s Japan, he concludes, “It is very important to reflect on the mission of the Church and the recent Letter that the Pope addressed to us, delivered by Cardinal Fernando Filoni in the recent trip, makes us reflect on the importance of evangelization. The challenges in our land are so many. We live in a society that does not seem very interested in spiritual life, but is rather centered on economy. It is urgent to give our faithful a deepening of faith and greater formation. We are confident that, thanks to Ukon’s figure, and with the grace of Christ, we will be able to start a renewal of the mission”.