Monday, June 1, 2009

JUNE 2 SAINTS MARCELLINUS AND PETER

“St. Peter the Exorcist”
artist and date UNKNOWN
JUNE 2

SAINTS MARCELLINUS AND PETER, MARTYRS


Biographical Information about Sts.
Marcellinus and Peter [1]

Readings for the Memorial of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
2 Corinthians 6:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
In everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God,
through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships,
constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots,
labors, vigils, fasts;
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness,
in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech,
in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left;
through glory and dishonor, insult and praise.
We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful;
as unrecognized and yet acknowledged;
as dying and behold we live;
as chastised and yet not put to death;
as sorrowful yet always rejoicing;
as poor yet enriching many;
as having nothing and yet possessing all things.
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Commentary on
2 Cor 6:4-10

St. Paul’s main message in this passage is to encourage those of the faith to remain steadfast as he and his companions have done. He describes nine different trials they have encountered (“afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts”) and provides a litany of seven contrasting negative external perceptions with positive internal spiritual realities.

CCC: 2 Cor 6:4 859
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 124:2-3, 4-5, 7b-8

R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler's snare.
Had not the LORD been with us
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler's snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept
the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler's snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler's snare.
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Commentary on
Ps 124:2-3, 4-5, 7b-8

The psalm is one of thanksgiving to the Lord for his gift of salvation – salvation from physical enemies; salvation from nature’s fury. The song thanks God who rescues us if we but reach out to him.

CCC: Ps 124:8 287
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GOSPEL
John 17:11b-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, saying:
"Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth."
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Commentary on Jn 17:11b-19

This passage is a continuation of the “High Priestly Prayer” started earlier in St. John’s Gospel John 17:1-11a. This part of the prayer begins with a plea for unity between the Father and disciples (note the reference here to Judas Iscariot as the “son of destruction"). Still speaking directly to God, Jesus again says he is going to the Father and that the disciples should share his joy at prospect. He then asks the father to keep them safe from the poison of sin (similar here to the petition in the Lord’s Prayer) and to consecrate them in truth (defining truth as the Word). “…but that you keep them from the Evil One” in this instance, it appears to refer specifically to the devil as opposed to some generic evil.

Clear reference is given here about how the world will receive these friends he sends into the world (“I gave them your word, and the world hated them”). This is why he asks at the onset "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.
.”

CCC: Jn 17:11 2747, 2749, 2750, 2750, 2815, 2849; Jn 17:12 2750, 2750; Jn 17:13 2747, 2749; Jn 17:15 2750, 2850; Jn 17:17-20 2821; Jn 17:17-19 2812; Jn 17:17 2466; Jn 17:18 858; Jn 17:19 611, 2747, 2749, 2812
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Reflection:

The stories of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter take us back to a very early period in Church history. At the beginning of the fourth century AD, a great persecution of Christians was underway implemented by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This was the last and bloodiest of the persecutions sponsored by Rome.

Tradition holds that the two Christians were told that they would be killed but the person who ordered the execution did not want them to be venerated so he had them killed in an out of the way place, three miles outside Rome. They were beheaded and buried having been first given the task of preparing their own place of execution (which they did joyfully according to the chronicler). The place was discovered by the faithful and their bodies given proper burial in catacombs. Pope Damasus heard their story from the executioner who was later converted to Christianity as a result to the heroic valor displayed by Marcellinus and Peter.

The scripture supporting their memorial describes God’s great love for those who like these two great Saints of the early Church endure trials for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. St. Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians commends those who endure such hardships as living witnesses to Christ’s great victory over sin and death. In the St. John’s Gospel, Jesus prays “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” Those who fearlessly proclaim God’s love are not loved by those who hate and love hate. It has been so since before even Christ waked the earth and remains so today.

As we reflect upon the faith and virtue these two sons of Christ displayed, we pray that we may not be put to such a test. We pray also that if we are, we are proven worthy of sharing the mantel they wear.

Pax

[1] The picture used is “St. Peter the Exorcist” artist and date 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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