Thursday, August 13, 2009




Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus
Artist and Date are UNKOWN
Biographical Information about Saint Pontian [1]

Biographical Information about Saint Hippolytus

Readings for the Memorial of Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus

Readings and Commentary:

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.
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.
CCC: 1 Pt 4:14 693; 1 Pt 4:17 672
Psalm 124:2-3. 4-5, 7-8R. (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.
Commentary on
Ps 124:2-3. 4-5, 7-8

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
John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
`No slave is greater than his master.'
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me."
Commentary on
Jn 15:18-21

Jesus gives the disciples a paradox in telling them that, while they are part of the world, they do not belong to the world. John gives us three different meanings of "the world."  In this instance it probably refers to fallen Israel - the spear of the devil that opposes God and hates the truth.  In other instances it refers to the universe created by God (John 1:10) and the fallen family of mankind in need of redemption. (John 3:17 ).[4]  The disciples are separated from that society through their association with Christ. He then reminds them that because they are his, they too will suffer persecution by those he came to save.

CCC: Jn 15:19-20 675; Jn 15:20 530, 765

The great Saints whose memorial we celebrate today must look down from heaven upon Holy Mother Church and smile at the irony that they share this feast day. For many years, as contemporaries they were polarized administratively, being on opposite sides of a power struggle within the Church (the
Novatian schism). While they were divided by the petty plottings of others, they were always unified in Christ whom they both served with vigor and fidelity in their roles with God’s people. They accepted the martyr’s mantle in an ignoble way, suffering long depravation in the mines of Sardinia rather than the swift violent deaths of so many of those whose robes are stained white in martyrdom.

Their faithful service, even in the face of violent opposition, provides a live example of what Christ exhorts his disciples to do in St. John’s Gospel. Seeing his own passion rushing toward him, the Lord looks with love upon those who follow him and, in what almost looks like an attempt to drive them away so they do not undergo the trials that await him (and them), he tells them that the world will not love them for the message they bring. He explains that many will not understand the message he prepares them to bring and others will reject it out of hand.

Through out history his words have found truth in the martyrs whose graves mark a path through two thousand years to this very date. We hope in this day that the Christians in the middle east, especially Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan may see the examples of Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus and be strengthened in their resolve. Even as they undergo the great persecution of this age, may the intercession of their predecessors in the struggle give them hope and courage.


[1] The picture is “Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus” Artist and Date are UNKOWN
[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
[4] Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, © 2010, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. p. 161

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