“No matter how difficult the situation may be — and indeed, at times it may seem to leave no room for the Gospel message — we must not give up and we must not forsake pursuing what is essential in our Christian life, namely evangelization,” the pope said.
He recalled an event from St. Andrew Kim’s life that illustrates the quality of never giving up.
When the Korean Catholic was a seminarian, he needed to find a way to secretly welcome foreign missionary priests to Korea, since foreigners were forbidden from entering the country.
“One time,” Francis said, the saint “walked as the snow was falling, without eating, for so long that he fell to the ground exhausted, risking unconsciousness and freezing.”
“At that point, he suddenly heard a voice, ‘Get up, walk!’ Hearing that voice, Andrew came to his senses, catching a glimpse of something like a shadow of someone guiding him.”
Pope Francis said “this experience of the great Korean witness makes us understand a very important aspect of apostolic zeal; namely, the courage to get back up when one falls.”
The pope shared another example of St. Andrew’s courage in evangelization.
Given the situation at the time, to confirm the Christian identity of others, they would agree ahead of time upon a sign of recognition.
“Then the saint would surreptitiously ask the question, but all quietly: ‘Are you a disciple of Jesus?’” Francis explained. “Since other people were watching the conversation, the saint had to speak in a low voice, saying only a few words, the most essential ones. So, for Andrew Kim, the expression that summed up the whole identity of the Christian was ‘disciple of Christ.’”
As the example of St. Andrew Kim Taegon shows, the pope said, being a disciple of the Lord “means to follow him, to follow his way, and this involves giving one’s life for the Gospel.”