Monday, June 22, 2009

JUNE 22 SAINTS JOHN FISHER AND THOMAS MORE

"St. Thomas More", by Hans the Younger Holbein,1527
"St. John Fisher", Artist and Date Unknown

JUNE 22

SAINT JOHN FISHER, BISHOP AND MARTYR
AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, MARTYR


Biographical Information about Saint John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr

Biographical Information about Saint Thomas More, Martyr [1]

Readings for the Memorial of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
1 Peter 4:12-19

Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you,
as if something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,
so that when his glory is revealed
you may also rejoice exultantly.
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
But let no one among you be made to suffer
as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer.
But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed
but glorify God because of the name.
For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God;
if it begins with us, how will it end
for those who fail to obey the Gospel of God?

And if the righteous one is barely saved,
where will the godless and the sinner appear?

As a result, those who suffer in accord with God's will
hand their souls over to a faithful creator as they do good.
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Commentary on
1 Pt 4:12-19

The suffering to which the author has already frequently referred is presented in more severe terms. This has led some scholars to see these verses as referring to an actual persecution. Others see the heightening of the language as only a rhetorical device used at the end of the letter to emphasize the suffering motif.
[3]

CCC: 1 Pt 4:14 693; 1 Pt 4:17 672
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 126:1bc-2ab, 2cd-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 who 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.
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Commentary on
Ps 126:1bc-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

Psalm 126 is a lament. The strophes used rejoice in the return of the captives placed in servitude during the Diaspora. The sense is one of being overflowing with thanksgiving.

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GOSPEL
Matthew 10:34-39

Jesus said to the Twelve:
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
man 'against his father,
daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one's enemies will be those of his household.'
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

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Commentary on Mt 10:34-39

The final remarks of Jesus to the Apostles as they go out to preach and heal are given in this passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel. He reminds them that even though the word they spread reflects God’s love, they will be received badly by many, dividing households and families.

He goes on to tell them that those who will fully accept him and his word will undergo persecution because of him and, even if they lose their lives on His account, they will be saved. The reward given to those who accept this word and follow in his way will be great in heaven.

This discourse, recalled many years after Christ’s death and resurrection, has the advantage of seeing the persecution of those who spread the word in the early Church and embodies a fuller understanding of the meaning of Christ’s teaching.
CCC: Mt 10:37 2232; Mt 10:38 1506
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Reflection:

It is fitting that we celebrate the feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More on the same date. They died fighting for the cause of Christ against the same person, King Henry XIII and they were martyred within weeks of each other. We memorialize them because they were heroic in their courage and strengthened as they were by the Holy Spirit. We also give thanks for the principle they championed; that the Church, not secular state may dictate the morality of its members.

This principle is constantly being tested. We fight an on-going battle with those who would dictate moral precepts that are anathema to our Christian consciences. Perhaps the most recent and wide spread attach by the secular world is against the respect and dignity of human life itself. This battle is most fiercely waged in countries where the founding principles are Christian; the United States, Italy, the UK, and other predominately Christian societies. In these places there has been an erosion of morality and a corresponding erosion of respect for human life. Infanticide is being held up as a “woman’s right” and not as a great wrong, the taking of a human life. Governments, swayed by an increasing influx of non-religious members find it easy to say this is a medical issue and not one of morality.

With our memorial of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, we remind them that divorce was an issue similarly decided and look where that has taken us. There is now great confusion about the sanctity of marriage and generations have come to think of it as a simple process, no longer even requiring a lawyer. We ask for the prayers of St. John and St. Thomas today. May they pour out their saintly prayers for the world that the moral standards of Holy Mother Church, based on Christ’s commandments, may guide those in power to create a more just world.

Pax

[1] The picture is “St. Thomas More” by Hans the Younger Holbein,1527, "St. John Fisher", 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.
[3] See NAB footnote on 1 Peter 4:12-19

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