Wednesday, April 23, 2008


“Saint George”
by Gustave Moreau, c. 1850 


Biographical Information about St. George [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. George

Readings and Commentary: [2]

Revelation 21:5-7

The One who was seated on the throne said:
"Behold, I make all things new."
Then he said, "Write these words down,
for they are trustworthy and true."
He said to me, "They are accomplished.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, 

the beginning and the end. 

To the thirsty I will give a gift
from the spring of life-giving water.
The victor will inherit these gifts,
and I shall be his God,
and he will be my son."

Commentary on
Rev 21:5-7

In this passage from the Revelations of St. John, the evangelist speaks of the reign of God having already begun (“I make all things new…” and “They are accomplished”). The “victor(s)” referred to are Christians who have been faithful in the face of trials, and the promise given is the adoption by Christ in Baptism.

CCC: Rv 21:1-22:5 117; Rv 21:5 1044; Rv 21:6 694, 1137; Rv 21:7 2788
Psalm 126: 1 bc-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (5) Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion, 

we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.

R. Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us; 

we are glad indeed. 
R. Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert. 

Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.

R. Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown, 

They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.

R. Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.
Commentary on
Ps 126: 1 bc-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

Psalm 126 is a lament. In this short psalm, the singer rejoices at the return of Israel following the Diaspora, the conquering of Israel and its enslavement. In this hymn, the people remember the greatness of God as he restores their nation and brings them back to their own land ("Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves"). The sense is one of being overflowing with thanksgiving.

Luke 9:23-26

Jesus said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, 

he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of 

when he comes in his glory and in the glory 
of the Father and of the holy angels." 
Commentary on
Lk 9:23-26

The Gospel takes up the theme of life and death, as Jesus first informs his disciples that he will undergo the “Passion” at the hands of the Jewish hierarchy (v.22) and be raised. He then provides this invitation to life, by contrasting, as Moses did in Deuteronomy 30:15-20, the (spiritual) salvation brought about through faith and the (eternal) death that awaits the faithless.

CCC: Lk 9:23 1435

The memorial of St. George provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon those who have made the supreme sacrifice for the Lord. While St. George is most famous for his battle with the dragon, the lessons taken from this quasi-mythical tradition are important for the development of bravery and faithfulness in the face of overwhelming opposition, and generosity. This saint heroically placed himself in harm's way for the sake of those who could not defend themselves. He then compounded his heroism by rejecting personal gain for his actions, and distributing his reward to the poor. At a time when heroes were needed, devotion to St. George was a shining example of valor and humility.

For us, in the modern world, the exploits of St. George might seem a bit over the top. Following this saint’s example could feel to us like Don Quixote of La Mancha, but we are given Holy Scripture to correct that impression. St. George gave his life for Christ, following the Savior’s own example. We hear from St. John how this sacrifice will be rewarded by a special place in the heavenly kingdom.

Indeed, the Gospel from St. Luke tells us how the Lord commands us to accept challenges to our faith, directly or indirectly, and bear those burdens, even as he did, to his death. He promises that those who do so will find life in him. It comes down to what we believe. If we have faith in Christ and believe that without him there is no life, then how can we lay that faith aside thinking that by doing so it would make our lives easier?

That exact challenge faces us each day; when we are offered paths that would seem easier, options that would bring us to be accepted more readily by our peers. In the movies it is like when the bad guy takes a hostage at gun point and tells the good guy to lay down his weapon. When he does that, invariably to bad guy shoots him anyway. We cannot lay down our faith even in the face of dire consequences; eternal death waits for us there if we do.

Today we memorialize St. George, the hero and knight in God’s army. We pray for his prayers as we face the challenges that we will face today; may we be courageous in the face of adversity.


[1] The picture used is “Saint George” by Gustave Moreau, c. 1850 
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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