These North American Martyrs present to us a wonderful story and an awesome challenge. Outside of all of the social and political ramifications involved here, their primary mission was one of proclaiming the Gospel and bring the message of Jesus Christ to new people. They endured spiritual and physical hardships as well as eventually death. What we admire most about them is their tenacity of faith. Despite the dangers involved they continued to engage the native peoples.
These men lived what they preached. In a very real way these men loved the people they preached to, and cared for them deeply. Perhaps this is what motivated them to return again and again to this sometimes hostile environment. We have the impression that these early missionaries had an admiration of the native peoples and their culture. They were ready to serve them.
The Problem that is conveyed in Luke's Gospel today, (12:39-48) is that the Pharisees and religious leaders are good at teaching the law, but not very good at living it themselves. The teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ should challenge us to become true Disciples. A Disciple loves the people that they serve, and reaches out to them with kindness and compassion. Their faithful lives are built upon the faithfulness of God. In this way they become living witnesses of 'Good News.'
Saints like John De Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, and his companions, demonstrate that being a Disciple welcomes Jesus Christ into oneself, so that it might be radiated towards those around them. Discipleship is a lifestyle of ongoing conversion which recognizes the holiness of God in all things and in all peoples. Because we are part of the Body of Christ we respond to the needs and concerns of those around us. These North American Martyrs hopefully can help us examine our life of faith in the wilderness in which we live.