Tuesday, June 30, 2009

JUNE 30 THE FIRST HOLY MARTYRS OF ROME

” Crucifixion and Apotheosis
of the Ten Thousand Martyrs”
by Vittore Carpaccio 1515
JUNE 30

THE FIRST HOLY MARTYRS
OF THE HOLY ROMAN CHURCH

Additional Information about the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church [1]

Readings for the Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING

Romans 8:31b-39

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written:
For your sake we are being slain all the day,
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
hrough him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Commentary on
Rom 8:31b-39

St. Paul bursts into a hymn proclaiming the victory over death and suffering experienced by the faithful, lifted up by God in Christ. The premise that the love of God assures salvation to the faithful is strengthened as the evangelist asks the rhetorical question “What will separate us from the love of Christ?” Over all obstacles (human, physical, and metaphysical – “height and depth” probably referred to ancient astrological terms indicating the closest proximity and the most distant star from the zenith.) were the love of God expressed in Christ is the unshakable foundation Christian life and hope.

The Apostle quotes
Psalm 44:23 as his song denies that even death is a barrier between the faithful and God’s love. No earthly or spiritual force can stand against such love as that shown in Christ Jesus.

CCC: Rom 8:31 2852; Rom 8:32 603, 706, 2572; Rom 8:34 1373, 2634
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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
Matthew 24:4-13

Jesus said to his disciples:
"See that no one deceives you.
For many will come in my name, saying,
`I am the Christ,' and they will deceive many.
You will hear of wars and reports of wars;
see that you are not alarmed,
for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end.
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;
there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place.
All these are the beginning of the labor pains.
Then they will hand you over to persecution,
and they will kill you.
You will be hated by all nations because of my name.
And then many will be led into sin;
they will betray and hate one another.
Many false prophets will arise and deceive many;
and because of the increase of evildoing,
the love of many will grow cold.
But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved."

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Commentary on Mt 24:4-13

This selection is part of St. Matthew’s Eschatological Sermon in which the Lord reflects upon the end times. Here he begins by cautioning the Disciples not to interpret the trials to come as the end of the world (“…for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. “). He also cautions them about false teachers who will take advantage of those trials for their own profit. Many will be deceived he predicts. He concludes by encouraging them to persevere in their faith and salvation will be theirs.

CCC: Mt 24:12 675; Mt 24:13 161
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Reflection:

We thank God for the gift of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church today. We sit in our pews and listen to God’s word and see his great sacrifice. Sharing that banquet with our brothers and sisters in faith, it is difficult for us to imagine that anyone could dislike what takes place, let alone hate us. But even in our post-Christian society, we find signs that there are attempts being made to undermine and destroy the religious and moral fabric of our communities. The Lord warns us in St. Matthew’s Gospel “You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another.” When we look around us, doesn’t this prediction ring true? Not just the radical Muslims of the world have displayed enmity toward us, but even in our own country we find a constant attack with court challenges to everything from our religious symbols on public display, our moral stances on the dignity of human life and the sanctity of marriage, even to the recent editing of our pledge of allegiance by a major television network to remove the word’s “under God”

It is not a huge leap to envision a time in our world where we once more are faced with the same decision of these Roman Martyrs – do we sacrifice our lives for our faith? We pray this day may never come and that the Lord will dominate the hearts and minds of all nations and there may be peace; but history has proven the Lord’s truth about the fallen nature of our race.

These martyrs were sustained in their time of trial by the gift of the Holy Spirit (so recently celebrated at the great feast of Pentecost). Today we pray that, should we be tested, whether it is a small test like standing up for our moral principles or the ultimate test of offering up our lives, we might find that same strength flowing in us and add our own sacrifice to that of all the great saints who have gone before us in faith.

Pax

[1] The picture is ” Crucifixion and Apotheosis of the Ten Thousand Martyrs” by Vittore Carpaccio 1515
[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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