We immortalize today St. Pedro Calungsod, not only because he offered his life for his faith, but also because, and more importantly, he walked his talk: He lived his life according to how he preached to others.
Pedro was believed to be only 17 years old when he met his martyrdom. He was a catechist who accompanied the Jesuits in their effort to evangelize the people of Guam. He was speared when an angry father learned that Fr. Diego, the priest whom St. Pedro assisted, baptized his child. Records had shown that he violently hurled spears first at Pedro. Those who witnessed the event recounted how the young man avoided the darting spears with such remarkable skill. They even added that the agile young man had all the chances to escape, but he refused to leave Padre Diego alone.
Finally, a spear hit Pedro at the chest and he fell to the ground. Someone finished him off with a dagger by thrusting on the head of the young man. Padre Diego could not do anything except to raise a crucifix and give Pedro the final sacramental absolution.
In that terrifying moment, Pedro’s human life ended. But we know that even after 400 years since that fateful incident took place, he continues to live on.
Pedro was a catechist who must have taught countless young people how to pray, and how to live a beautiful life to honor the God Who was loved us first, and Who has loved us unconditionally.
With that single incident, he did not just teach by his word. That heroic act put concrete flesh to what he taught. He walked his talk: He lived his life according to how he preached to others.
Death for martyrs usually comes in an instant. And how beautiful and incredible and spectacular that moment is! But his generous offering must have been prepared way before that. His desire to love the Lord up until the very end was nurtured by the sacraments, enriched by his intimate encounter with the Lord, marked by little heroic acts of kindness and generosity and selfless sacrifices.
But that single heroic act of martyrdom came so swiftly because he was prepared for that moment. He died following the principle by which he lived. He walked his talk: He lived his life according to how he preached to others.
The best way to honor this young man, this saint-martyr, is to imitate his heroism. We cannot be a hero if we are not up to the challenge. And the challenge comes in our very own context, in the ordinariness of our very lives: The capacity to repeatedly say no to little temptations, the constant courage to embrace the little inconveniences that come our way, the passion to offer every difficulty for God’s greater glory, these all bring us to the path which young Pedro threaded.
When Pope Francis visited our country, he challenged us to become evangelizers to our Asian counterparts. Our country is but a tiny speck of Christianity in the biggest continent of the world. But the flicker, the little light our Christian life brings is more than enough to light up the entire Asian continent who still needs to be introduced to the Good News.
Let this example of this young martyred catechist, St. Pedro Calungsod embolden each of us to walk our talk, to give courage to what we believe in.