Sunday, June 28, 2009


“St. Irenaeus” the artist and date
of the engraving are UNKNOWN


Biographical Information about St. Irenaeus [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Irenaeus

Readings and Commentary:

2 Timothy 2:22b-26

Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace,
along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.
Avoid foolish and ignorant debates,
for you know that they breed quarrels.
A slave of the Lord should not quarrel,
but should be gentle with everyone,
able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness.
It may be that God will grant them repentance
that leads to knowledge of the truth,
and that they may return to their senses out of the Devil's snare,
where they are entrapped by him, for his will.
Commentary on
2 Tm 2:22b-26

St. Paul instructs St. Timothy to himself be righteous as he rails against false teachers. The Apostle stresses the need for Timothy to rise above the argumentative attitudes of those who challenge orthodox teaching. In this way his attitude will demonstrate the truth about Jesus. This approach, says St. Paul, will lead the false ones, trapped by the devil, to the Lord.

CCC: 2 Tm 2:22 2518; 2 Tm 2:23-26 2518
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

Psalm 37 is a lament containing the plea to be faithful to God and remain steadfast in the time of adversity. The psalmist sings that the faith of the people will bring them salvation and that the Lord is faithful and intercedes for them against the wicked. Salvation comes from the Lord alone is the common message.

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.

John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
"Holy Father, I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them."
Commentary on Jn 17:20-26

Here is the final part of the “High Priestly Prayer” from the Lord’s final discourse. In this selection we are joined with the disciples as Jesus prays: …also for those who will believe in me through their word.Again the theme of unity between the Father, the Son, and his followers is emphasized and brought to a conclusion with:…that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.

CCC: Jn 17 2604, 2746, 2758; Jn 17:21-23 260, 877; Jn 17:21 820; Jn 17:22 690; Jn 17:23-26 2750; Jn 17:24 2749, 2750, 2750; Jn 17:25 2751; Jn 17:26 589, 729, 2750

Without St Irenaeus (130 - 202) and his contemporaries, belief in Christ may never have continued past his era. The Gospel says Jesus began his High Priestly Prayer with "Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”  Yet we might have never understood what the Apostles truly taught about Jesus but for the efforts of St. Ireaneus. It was he who led the systematic evaluation of all of the writings about Jesus that flourished in the years following his passion and resurrection.

Many teachers brought forward manuscripts of accounts of Jesus life and teachings. Some related improbable passages about his youth (see the Gospel of St. Thomas) and others spoke of Jesus as a great magician. These accounts had to be evaluated and when discovered to be uninspired by God, refuted. We can only imagine how unpopular St. Irenaeus must have been. While it is not proven that he was martyred, it is entirely possible; many early Bishops were murdered for their defense against heresies.

What is certain is that it required a special gift of the Holy Spirit to take up this great work of faith in the face of such intense opposition and lacking any prior guidance – remember no one had previously codified the New Testament of the Bible. In doing this great work he shaped all of Christianity as God’s Church has sacred scripture as its foundation.

On the Memorial of St. Irenaeus, we ask for his prayers may we be fortified with a genuine faith in Christ and be strengthened by the great saint’s work,


[1] The picture is “St. Irenaeus” the artist and date of the engraving 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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