Saturday, August 3, 2013

Father Magee
Trinity X

The Gospel. St. Luke xix. 41.
AND when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple.

In our Gospel today it says…"He beheld the city, and wept over it".

Why should Christ have been so suddenly gripped in that way? This was the very last week of His earthly life and ministry. In another six days or so, He was to be crucified so this was His last visit to Jerusalem. Our Lord broke out with violent weeping and He tells us why. It is because of the things He knew. Jesus was aware of the horrible things that were soon to happen to Jerusalem and it’s people. So He burst forth with weeping. The thing that moved our Lord was the plight of these poor people who did not believe in Him. Jesus knew very well what would happen to Him. He knew about the scourging that would come, He knew about the crown of thorns that would be soon placed upon His head…He also knew about the cross, the mockery, the jeering and the hatred that was in His future. He saw it all by His divine eye, but He did not weep for Himself. No, Jesus wept for others. He knew what would happen to Him in Jerusalem and still yet He went to serve.

To be a Christian is to be Christ like. It is literally to emulate Jesus Christ and His actions upon this earth. This Gospel passage has always reminded me of one of my personal heroes…Who of course…Just happened to be an Anglican Priest… named, Fr. John Magee. Don’t know who he is? Don’t be surprised. I have yet to meet laymen or another priest who knows his story. Yet, he is an example of an American Anglican Saint.

John Magee was from a wealthy Pittsburgh family. He went to the finest schools. He had access to wealth and business connections. He could have been a wealthy industrialist, a politician, a man of power…Or, even a playboy with nothing to do but enjoy life. However, Father John Magee chose to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. After graduating seminary he chose to go and serve in China as a missionary. He met and fell in love with a young English woman who had also come to China to save souls in Jesus’ name.

Father Magee started doing missionary work in Nanking, China and was at the same time the chairman of Nanking Committee of the International Red Cross Organization. On December 13, 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army stormed the Chinese city of Nanking. There was one area that offered some protection from the Japanese. It was the so-called “International Zone” where almost all the foreigners lived, including Father Magee. During the following six weeks, the Japanese Army murdered and tortured countless civilians whose only crime was being Chinese. Over 300,000 people were killed and over 20,000 women were brutally raped. Some estimate the numbers to be much higher - 340,000 and 80,000 respectively. During this dark period when hundreds of thousands of defenseless Chinese were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Japanese army, Father Magee, who was appalled by the atrocities he witnessed, ran out of the Nanking International Safety Zone, without regard for his own safety and took part in rescuing over 100, 000 Chinese solders and civilians who were facing certain death by making sure they found safety from the Japanese. Father Magee shot several hundred minutes of film with a 16mm movie camera. These films recorded men being beheaded by the Japanese army, women being violated, and babies who lost parents with corpses lying all over in villages. Father Magee gathered the world’s most complete photo evidence of the Massacre of Nanking.

Even though Father Magee knew that at anytime the Japanese were likely to learn of his chronicling their atrocities and that they would most certainly kill him for it… he still continued to go back into Japanese held areas of Nanking over and over again and rescue Chinese nationals and gather more proof of Japanese war crimes. Like Jesus did in today’s Gospel, Father Magee wept for others but he did not worry for himself. He knew his death was likely imminent but he continued to do God’s work anyway. It is very likely that the world would have never learned about what was later to be called “the Rape of Nanking” if it were not for the actions of Father Magee. It is certain thousands would have died without his help.

Why do so few know of Father Magee today? Because Father McGee didn’t care if you knew about him or not. Because that was not the reason he served. He never wanted to be a bishop. He never wanted a “plum church” or a high paying job. He never wanted to “sell” his story. He never wanted fame of any kind. All he wanted to do was be a priest and to serve others. Father Magee wanted to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

We should ask ourselves: Are we attempting to walk with Jesus Christ? Are we? Are we attempting to be Christ like in our lives? Do we weep and complain for ourselves or, do we weep for others? Not all of us can be a Father Magee. But you know what? We don’t have to be. All we have to do is to want to be like Jesus. To love others. To cry for others rather than cry for ourselves. If we do not walk Jesus's path Christ pities our souls. He weeps for us. Jesus says, "Repent and believe in me and I will forgive all your sins and wickedness, whatever it has been. All you have to desire is to walk my path.”

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