Wednesday, October 14, 2009


“St. Callistus I”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN


Biographical Information about St. Callistus I [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Callistus I

Readings and Commentary:

1 Peter 5:1-4

I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing it not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Commentary on
1 Pt 5:1-4

St. Peter, first among the Apostles, concludes his first letter writing specifically to those who have been appointed to lead local Christian communities. These individuals would have been appointed by the Apostles as they traveled on their missionary journeys.  He provides a view of leadership consistent with Christ’s teaching and contradicting the Jewish leadership style which was authoritarian. He exhorts the Presbyters or Elders to offer their service as a gift to God and provide leadership through their example of humility.
"St Gregory the Great teaches that the pastor of souls "should always give the lead, to show by his example the way to life, so that his flock (who follow the voice and the actions of the pastor) are guided more by example than by words; his position obliges him to speak of elevated things, and also to manifest them personally; the word more easily gains access to the hearts of hearers when it carries with it the endorsement of the life of him who when giving instructions assists in their fulfillment by his own example" ("Regulae Pastoralis Liber", 2, 3)." [3]
CCC: 1 Pt 5:3 893, 1551; 1 Pt 5:4 754
Psalm 40:2 and 4ab, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, "Behold I come."

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

"In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!"

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Commentary on
Ps 40:2 and 4ab, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

While Psalm 40 is a song of thanksgiving, it is also combined with a lament. The initial waiting is satisfied by favor shown by God to one who is faithful in service to Him. Praise and thanksgiving are given to God whose justice is applied to all.

CCC: Ps 40:2 2657; Ps 40:7-9 LXX 462; Ps 40:7 2824

Luke 22:24-30

An argument broke out among the Apostles
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
Jesus said to them,
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors';
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Commentary on
Lk 22:24-30

This argument among the disciples is timed ironically in that it occurs in the upper room during the feast of the last supper, following the Lord’s announcement that one of his closest friends would betray him. Jesus proceeds to provide the disciples with straightforward teaching about the servant role they were to exemplify. He then promises all of them that, because they will have stood by him, they will also be with him in heaven.

CCC: Lk 22:26-27 894; Lk 22:27 1570; Lk 22:28-30 787; Lk 22:29-30 551; Lk 22:30 765

God’s finger-prints are all over Pope St. Callistus (c. 222). His rise to the papacy is an amazing and twisted path that developed several saintly detractors and scholars including such patristic fathers as
Tertullian and the antipope Hippolytus. How, one might ask could such a person rise to sainted heights opposed by other saints and doctors of the Church?

It is because Holy Mother Church is constantly seeking the face of Christ which is hidden from His Bride until, on the last day, we stand before him. St. Callistus, perhaps because of his experience of having sinned and been forgiven, fought against those who believed that only Baptism could expunge sin and allow a person into full communion with the faithful. He argued that through Apostolic Succession, the Keys to the Kingdom which gave authority to St. Peter by Jesus saying “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19-20) were passed to his (St. Peter’s) successors.

It is indeed ironic that the very humility that allowed Pope St. Callistus to understand the love and forgiveness of Christ, casting himself at the feet of the Lord in contrition, established him as one to whom the Church he faithfully guided looks up to as a stalwart of fidelity to Christ. In spite of his failings he believed steadfastly in the Lord’s forgiveness and love for all through all times.

As we recall him in Memorial today, we pray that St. Callistus intercede for us in prayer. May our sins, which are always before us, be washed away by the Blood of the Lamb.


[1] The picture is “St. Callistus I” 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] The Navarre Bible: “Major Prophets”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 346

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