Saturday, September 19, 2009


“St. Januarius”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN


Biographical Information about St. Januarius[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Januarius

Readings and Commentary:

Hebrews 10:32-36

Brothers and sisters:
Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened,
you endured a great contest of suffering.
At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction;
at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.
You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.
Commentary on
Hebrews 10:32-36

Hebrews instructs the faithful in the practical aspects of living the faith they have been given. The author calls on the readers to recall a time of great trial following their baptism into Christ (enlightenment in this context refers to baptism rather than just hearing the Gospel). The author refers to a persecution that was endured and now calls them to persevere.

CCC: Heb 10:32 1216; Heb 10:36 2826
Psalm 126:1 bc-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.
Commentary on
Ps 126:1 bc-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.

John 12:24-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me."
Commentary on
Jn 12:24-26

Jesus has made his final entry into Jerusalem.  His hour is at hand and, in the presence of Gentiles as well as his disciples he reflects on his salvific mission.  St. John’s passage, given here, is foundational to our understanding of the Pascal Mystery. Using the analogy of the grain of wheat, the Lord invites us to his own sacrifice.

"Beautifully, Christ begins to elucidate the mystery of his atoning death.  If it be thought strange that he must die in order to bring life, let it be remembered that this paradox already exists in nature.  The grain of wheat left to itself produces nothing; only when it appears to have died and has been buried does it bring forth fruit - in far greater abundance than itself (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:36)." [3]

Out of the Lord's analogy, wheat that comes from the seemingly dead and buried seed becomes the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Into the body's death to sin in Baptism, we are invited to share the salvation that comes from following Christ from death to life.

CCC: Jn 12:24 2731

We are reminded, especially on this day as we celebrate the memorial of St. Januarius, that the Church is watered with the blood of the martyrs and grows with each drop of blood that is shed. We say especially in this instance because of the great mystery surrounding the relic (preserved blood) of St. Januarius which according to ancient tradition, liquefies when reunited with other relics of the saint.

It is recorded by reliable witnesses that when St. Januarius was brought into the arena with his companions to be torn apart by lions, the beasts could not be made to harm any of them so they were beheaded instead. Their witness and heroic courage for the faith has lead many to the truth and salvation.

As the Lord tells us through St. John’s Gospel, when a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it rises producing much fruit. He was, of course speaking of his own death and resurrection. However, as we have witnessed throughout the history of our faith, martyrs have faced cruel torture and death for the Lord’s greater glory and even as their bodies parish, their souls rise to the Lord to be reunited with their venerable relics on the last day. In that witness, they are wheat – feeding the people of God with the faith they witness. May we be granted some portion of that faith with the help of the intercession of St. Januraius.


[1] The picture is “St. Januarius” Artist and Date 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.
[3]  Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, 63:131, pp. 449

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