Wednesday, September 16, 2009

SEPTEMBER 16 STS. CORNELIUS AND CYPRIAN



Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian
Artist and Date are Unknown


SEPTEMBER 16

SAINT CORNELIUS,
POPE AND MARTYR,
AND SAINT CYPRIAN, BISHOP AND MARTYR
MEMORIAL

Biographical Information about
St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian [1]

Readings for the Memorial of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
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Commentary on
2 Cor 4:7-15

St. Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about suffering and death in the human existence of this life, in spite of living in the faith. The image he uses, fragile earthen pots, speaks of God’s instruments being easily broken but nonetheless effective. The image of small terracotta lamps in which light is carried is mentioned elsewhere. The point the evangelist makes contrasts our mortality with God’s omnipotence and power, our death in the flesh with life in the spirit of Christ. With such a spirit at work within us, we must, like St. Paul, spread that news to others (“…we too believe and therefore speak”).

CCC: 2 Cor 4:7 1420; 2 Cor 4:14 989
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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. In this short psalm the singer rejoices at the return of Israel following the Diaspora, the conquering of Israel and its enslavement. In this hymn, the people remember the greatness of God as he restores their nation and brings the people back to their own land ("Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves."). The sense is one of being overflowing with thanksgiving.

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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

The prayer (the “High Priestly Prayer”) we are given in this selection from St. John’s Gospel is from the Lord’s discourse in the “Upper Room” just prior to his passion. 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). 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:

In this age where militant Islamic factions send young men to death through violent acts of suicide and call them “martyrs”, we memorialize two great “true” martyrs of the early Church. Sts. Cyprian and Cornelius were contemporaries in the Church of the third century (martyred in 258 and 253 respectively). They did not seek death for the sake of Christ – violent despots, fearing their power would be diluted had them sought out and murdered.

Jesus, whom they served with utmost fidelity, consecrated them in truth and that truth was not accepted by the world in which they lived. Still they went into that hostile world, very much like Christians living in the Middle East today, living lives filled with faith (and fear) with only the peace of Christ to give them hope, a beacon to the world that the love of God was theirs to be had.

We, who live in societies that embrace Christian values and celebrate the idea that all persons are our brothers and sisters, are blessed. We are challenged in a much milder way to stay faithful to the lives Christ calls us to live. When we start to feel like the discipline of faith is too difficult; when we feel that some precept of our religion is too limiting for our life style, let us remember these great men of faith and ask them to intercede for us to the Lord of all Mercies in whose heavenly kingdom they reside.

On this the feast day of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian we ask them to pray for us that we might remain steadfast in our faith in spite of any resistance. We pray that the Holy Spirit that kept them firm in the face of certain death will also strengthen us as we take the message of the Gospel into the world.

Pax

[1] The Icons of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian were found without citations for the artists or dates
[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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