Wednesday, January 20, 2010

View from the Pew - Wednesday January 20, 2010

Feast of St. Fabian (Pope and Martyr) and St. Sebastian (Soldier and Martyr)

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, 40-51
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.”
David continued:
“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.
For 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.

The Psalm was:
144:1b, 2, 9-10
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
 Let us remember that the Lord is the Rock of Our Salvation.

The Gospel reading was:
Mk 3:1-6
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.
How 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'.


Joshua S. said...

Rules, rules, rules - everywhere you look there are more of 'em. And you are so right, Michael, in pointing up how some rules - if we follow them - but us at odds with God's laws and intentions.

Rules are normally established by groups/institutions. These groups/institutions are usually vested with a mandate. If said group/institution's rules do not promote the fulfillment of the mandate in some demonstrable way, then the rule(s) are superfluous to the group/institution in the first place. Further research/digging will usually reveal that the rule(s) in question had their genesis with one person's quest for power/influence.

Unfortunately, almost every group/institution has such questionable rules buried somewhere in their agendae. This is among the many reasons why I have steered clear of "group/institution membership" despite many invitations to join.

In our home and while raising our children, my wife and I had/have a "special language" to talk about such groups/institutions. We call/refer to them as "Hat Clubs". "Hat Clubs" are groups whose membership rules include the superfluous rules, such as wearing a silly hat as proof of membership and group loyalty. We impressed upon our children how NOBODY LOOKS GOOD IN A SILLY HAT because SILLY HATS COMPROMISE INDIVIDUAL DIGNITY. Why would one join a group that requires one to compromise one's personal dignity as a matter of course?

Over the years, I've heard (and overheard) my kids explaining their perspective to friends with a simple: "I'm afraid not, 'cuz I just can't wear silly hats, know what I mean?"

I don't know whether their friends really do know what my kids mean, but Mom and I sure do. And we couldn't be more proud of our kids!

mbrandon8026 said...

I don't like silly hats either Joshua.

All to often, the silly hat distracts us from seeing the the emperor has no clothes.