Friday, May 2, 2008


“St. Athanasius”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN.
May 2

Saint Athanasius,
Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Additional Information about St. Athanasius [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Athanasius

Readings and Commentary: [2]

Reading 1:

1 John 5:1-5

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Commentary on 1 Jn 5:1-5

The beginning of this chapter from St. John’s first letter provides us with an understanding of Christ and God being of the same essence. The footnote from the NAB does a good job of cross linking this concept; “Children of God are identified not only by their love for others (

1 John 4:7-9) and for God (1 John 5:1-2) but by their belief in the divine sonship of Jesus Christ. Faith, the acceptance of Jesus in his true character and the obedience in love to God's commands (1 John 5:3), is the source of the Christian's power in the world and conquers the world of evil (1 John 5:4-5), even as Christ overcame the world (John 16:33).”

CCC:1 Jn 5:1 2780, 2790
Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 37:3-4, 5-6, 30-31

R. (30a) The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Trust in the Lord and do good
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will grant you your heart's requests.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Commit to the Lord your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

The mouth of the just tells of wisdom
and his tongue utters what is right.
The law of his God is in his heart,
and his steps do not falter.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Commentary on Ps 37:3-4, 5-6, 30-31

This selection of Psalm 37 (the main thrust or which is –evil is passing but God and His Law are eternal) exhorts the listener to trust in God and the “light” of truth will show the way of righteousness. The psalm appropriately extols the true teaching of God.


Matthew 10:22-25

Jesus said to the Twelve:
"You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel
before the Son of Man comes.
No disciple is above his teacher,
no slave above his master.
It is enough for the disciple that he become like the teacher,
and the slave that he become like the master.
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub,
how much more those of his household!"

Commentary on Mt 10:22-25

This selection from St. Matthew’s Gospel is part of the Lord’s commissioning discourse as he sends the disciples into the world. He has already warned them that their mission will upset many people. He now tells them that, in many places, they will be hated.

The author’s reference to the coming of the “Son of Man” in this context probably does not refer to the parousia (when Christ comes again in glory at the end times), rather it is likely that St. Matthew was referring to either the death of the disciples through martyrdom or possibly the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. The end of this passage clearly states that this outcome is assured (They too will be accused of coming from the “Prince of Demons”, “Beelzebul” see also

Matthew 9:34) if the Gospel is proclaimed as the Lord passed it on. “No disciple is above his teacher”.

CCC: Mt 10:22 161, 1821; Mt 10:25 765

The Saint we remember today, St. Athanasius, is one of those who passed on to us the truth as such a fundamental level we take the contribution for granted. All saints are recognized because the displayed “Heroic Virtue”. In the case of St. Athanasius he provided us with a hotly contested understanding of the very nature of Jesus. It is sometimes hard for us to understand that the Trinity as we understand it was not always the undisputed doctrine we have received. In the time of St. Athanasius a large and influential body of scholars postulated that Jesus was a creation of God the Father, separate from him, a creature not part of God. This heretical understanding was called
Arianism and in this age – people were being killed over such debates.

St. Athanasius fought this false teaching and formed the doctrine of homo-ousianism; Christ and God are of the same essence. In the Council of Nicea this doctrine became part of our Creed. The scriptural support for this unified understanding is seen in the first reading used today from St. John’s first letter. The following for Arianism was strong and in his battle against it, as Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, the one we remember today was exiled five times, for almost a third of his episcopal assignment.

His example for us is fidelity to faith in the face of extreme resistance; the theme we see in St. Matthew’s Gospel. When we go into the world today, we carry a message that will not be easily accepted and in fact is rejected, forbidden in much of the secular world. Think about the vast requirement that in our workplace and schools we are to be “non-religious”. Prayer is absolutely forbidden, religious symbols banned, all of this in the name of sensitivity to diversity. We are challenged St. Athanasius’ example to continue to be outspoken heralds of the truth that is Jesus, “…only Son of the Father; God from God, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father.” This is our heritage and our call, we pray for the strength to be worthy of it.


[1] The icon is “St. Athanasius” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN.
[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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