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February 6 | Imitation
Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
In the Christian life, imitation of Jesus is the highest form of praise. This imitation has long been held as an ideal among Christians, so much so that The Imitation of Christ, published in 1418, is still a top-selling spiritual book in the twenty-first century.
What does it mean to imitate Jesus? For Francis of Assisi, it meant giving up all he had. For Teresa of Ávila, it meant communing deeply with God through prayer. For Mother Teresa, it meant ministering to the poorest of the poor.
For Saint Paul Miki, it meant marching to his place of execution, being crucified, and forgiving his executioners from the cross.
Paul Miki was born into a wealthy Japanese family in 1562, at a time when Christianity was just being introduced to Japan by missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier. Paul joined the Jesuits at a young age, and quickly became renowned for his brilliant preaching of deep theological concepts.
Soon after, the Japanese government began to target Christians, and Paul Miki, along with twenty-five others, were forced on a death march from Kyoto to Nagasaki. They were humiliated and mocked at every turn, but Paul Miki sang hymns to God the whole way.
In Nagasaki, these twenty-six martyrs were crucified. Paul Miki was pierced with a lance like Jesus. He preached his final sermon from the cross, forgiving those who killed him and even telling them, “Ask Christ to help you to become happy.”
Saint Paul Miki’s story is extraordinary, but we’re all called to imitate Jesus in whatever situation we find ourselves in. Next time someone wrongs you in any way, take a deep breath and do your best to forgive them. You might have to try it a couple times. And every day, ask Jesus for the grace to become more like him.
How can I be like Jesus today? In what ways am I being challenged to stay true to my faith?
Jesus, help me to be more like You every day.
This reflection is brought to you from book title.
Patron Saint of: Japan
Symbols: Palm, Cross, and Spear
Feast Day: February 6
Feast Day Shared By: Saint Dorothea
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