The 22 Martyrs of Uganda who suffered for their faith during a 12 month reign of terror against Catholics. Led by Saint Charles Lwanga a lay catechist who was burned to death on 3 June 1886. Pope Paul VI canonised Saint Charles and his companions in 1964.
Today we hear the closing verses of the Acts of the Apostles. An end which is not an end; because we don’t see any of the apostles ending their ministry at all. Saint Peter is either in Antioch or Rome, overseeing the growing Church. Barnabas and John Mark are on the road evangelizing. The other apostles are traveling far and wide, preaching the Gospel and establishing new churches. Even Paul, imprisoned in Rome, is still proclaiming the kingdom of God at every opportunity.
Let’s think about Saint Paul for a moment. He could have taken advantage of this time of relative peace to wrap up his affairs and get a bit of rest. But that’s not what happened. He wrote letters to all the churches he had founded. He reached out to his adversaries and tried to reconcile with them. And he never stopped preaching the Good News to any who would listen.
Shackled, imprisoned, and under constant guard, Paul still felt compelled to pour himself out in service to Our Lord and his Church. Even now, when everything seemed to have been taken away from him, he knew he was still important to God.
Some of us may be in a similar situation: perhaps slowed down by age or illness, or feeling overloaded by the demands of an ever-growing diary. But no matter what situations we face, we can always find opportunities to serve God. And God will never tell us he doesn’t need us. Even in old age and illness, we can still share our faith and continue to plant seeds. We can spend time in prayer for our loved ones and for the world. We can e-mail relatives and friends who are far away and encourage them in their relationship with God. We can even try to make amends with people who may have hurt us in the past.
We will never be useless to God. He will take whatever we can do, big or small, and infuse it with his grace and transforming power. Our experience, our faithfulness, and even our challenges are of great value to the kingdom of God. No matter who we are or what we do, we can all make a big difference.