Sunday, November 22, 2009


“St. Clement I”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN 


Biographical Information about St. Clement I[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Clement 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)." [4]

CCC: 1 Pt 5:3 893, 1551; 1 Pt 5:4 754
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations."

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong."

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
He shall say of me, 'You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior."'

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Commentary on
Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

Psalm 89, taken as a whole, is a communal lament. This selection rejoices in God’s establishment of the Davidic Dynasty and the promise of heavenly support for his kingdom.

CCC: Ps 89 709
Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
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."

Commentary on
Mt 16:13-19

St. Matthew’s story of how Jesus asked about what people were saying about him has a profound impact on the Church. Here, when challenged by Jesus with the question, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon answers, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” The second title is not present in St. Mark’s version of this encounter. The title adds an understanding that Jesus is not just the Messiah, but also the Son of God. Given this response, Jesus confers upon Simon a new name “Kephas” which comes from the root Aramaic word Kepa or “Rock.” When translated into Greek it is Petros, and from there to Peter. The name, however, becomes the foundation for the Church. Peter, as a consequence of this exchange is given Christ’s authority, an authority that is passed down through Papal Succession to the Pope who sits on the Chair of Peter today.

CCC: Mt 16-18 1969; Mt 16:16-23 440; Mt 16:16 424, 442; Mt 16:17 153, 442; Mt 16:18-19 881; Mt 16:18 424, 442, 552, 586, 869; Mt 16:19 553, 1444

Saint Clement, the third pope to rule the Roman Church after Saint Peter, reigned toward the end of the first century He wrote his famous epistle to the Corinthians to strengthen and encourage peace and unity among them.[3]

We can only guess at the challenges faced by those charged with leading the Church in those early years immediately following the death of the Apostles. The Mormon Church even claims that there was a failure by the patristic fathers in authentically handing on the faith. This claim of course is ludicrous and therefore destroys the veracity of their founder Joseph Smith. One only needs to look at the writings of such Saints as St. Clement I whose memorial we celebrate to see that the Keys to the Kingdom were faithfully passed on to the third successor of the Apostles.

St. Clement was forced to deal with the same issues as St. Paul with the church in Corinth. He continues the Evangelist’s theology regarding the Church being the living Body of Christ:

All work together and are mutually subject for the preservation of the whole body.

"Our entire body, then, will be preserved in Christ Jesus, and each of us should be subject to his neighbor in accordance with the grace given to each. The stronger should care for the weak, and the weak should respect the stronger. The wealthy should give to the poor, and the poor man should thank God that he has sent him someone to supply his needs. The wise should manifest their wisdom not in words but in good deeds, and the humble should not talk about their own humility but allow others to bear witness to it. Since, therefore, we have all this from him, we ought to thank him for it all. Glory to him for ever. Amen.
” – From a letter to the Corinthians by St. Clement I

This continuity of teaching is a treasure of the Church and serves to provide guidance, through Christ's grace, through all the millennia since Pope St. Clement first penned them. Today we ask for his intercession. We pray that, with all the angels and saints, St. Clement will ask the Lord God to keep us faithful to the teachings of the Gospel. We pray also that, through the Holy Spirit, God may strengthen our faith so that by all we say and do we might proclaim, as St. Peter, St. Clement’s successor did; "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."


[1] The icon is “St. Clement 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] Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing Corp, © 1975, Vol. 4, pp.1578
[4] The Navarre Bible: “Major Prophets”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 346

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