Today was the feast day of St. Fabian who was an early Pope who was martyred by the Emporer Decius in 250 AD. The unusual thing about him was that he was not a priest, yet became Pope. The Church at the time was under ground, and when a new pope was needed, Fabian was in the congregation of believers who were meeting to pick a replacement. During the meeting, a dove came into the place and rested on Fabian's shoulders. Bright folks that they were, the faithful considered that a sign and elected him Pope. He served the Church for 14 years, before being martyred. He was a very holy man, and was the first layman to become Pope.
St. Sebastian was a soldier, but was secretly a Christian. He was around the Roman guard as a leader in fact until his death in 288. When Christians were being used for sport with the real lions, long before the toothless lions played football in Detroit, he would minister to those who were about to die, and also converted many who were not Christians and were about to die. Unbelievers infiltrated Christian circles and fed the names of believers to the leaders and one day gave up St. Sebastian to them. He was at the time head of the guard for the Emperor Diocletian. Diocletian had him shot full of arrows and left him for dead. When a Christian widow came to bury him, she discovered that he was still alive. After she nursed him back to health, he returned to the guard post he had had. Diocletian was not pleased, and this time had him clubbed to death. Sebastian is the patron saint of Soldiers for all you parents and spouses of soldiers, who may not have been so aware. Pray for his intercession for all those who work to protect us from physical evils that attack our brothers and sisters.
The first reading for today was the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel:
1 Sm 17:32-33, 37, 40-51For David his faith in Our God was sufficient, along with 5 puny stones and a sling to overcome the Philistine. Do you think that Our God is capable of removing the smaller obstacles in our lives that pop up. Without God, David would have been mince meat. With God, Goliath but the dust.
David spoke to Saul:
“Let your majesty not lose courage.
I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine.”
But Saul answered David,
“You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him,
for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth.”
“The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear,
will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.”
Saul answered David, “Go! the LORD will be with you.”
Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi
and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag.
With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine.
With his shield bearer marching before him,
the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David.
When he had sized David up,
and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance,
the Philistine held David in contempt.
The Philistine said to David,
“Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?”
Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods
and said to him, “Come here to me,
and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field.”
David answered him:
“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar,
but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.
Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand;
I will strike you down and cut off your head.
This very day I will leave your corpse
and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field;
thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God.
All this multitude, too,
shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves.
For the battle is the LORD’s and he shall deliver you into our hands.”
The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters,
while David ran quickly toward the battle line
in the direction of the Philistine.
David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone,
hurled it with the sling,
and struck the Philistine on the forehead.
The stone embedded itself in his brow,
and he fell prostrate on the ground.
Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone;
he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword.
Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.
The Psalm was:
144:1b, 2, 9-10Let us remember that the Lord is the Rock of Our Salvation.
R. (1) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My refuge and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues my people under me.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten-stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock
The Gospel reading was:
Mk 3:1-6How often do we have this need to be right? Here was Jesus doing a good thing, healing a man, but it was the Sabbath. Tsk Tsk. How tied up are we in our belief system, and in our rules of life that we do not see the need to Love One Another, as Jesus did? Just askin'.
Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.