Sunday, August 1, 2010


“Martyrium, Heiligen, Eusebius, Vercelli”
by Gaetano Gandolfi, 1784.


Biographical Information about St. Eusebius of Vercelli [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli

Readings and Commentary:

I John 5:1-5

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Commentary on
I Jn 5:1-5

The beginning of this chapter from St. John’s first letter provides us with an understanding of Christ and God being of the same essence. “Children of God are identified not only by their love for others (1 John 4:7-9) and for God (1 John 5:1-2) but by their belief in the divine sonship of Jesus Christ. Faith, the acceptance of Jesus in his true character and the obedience in love to God's commands (1 John 5:3), is the source of the Christian's power in the world and conquers the world of evil (1 John 5:4-5), even as Christ overcame the world (John 16:33).” [3]

CCC: 1 Jn 5:1 2780, 2790
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

R. (2) 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,
I hat 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 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven."
Commentary on
Mt 5:1-12a

This section of the Sermon on the Mount begins the first of five great discourses in St. Matthew’s Gospel. He begins using a formula common in the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament with “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”(Job 5:17; Proverbs 3:13; Sirach 25:8-9) This designation identifies those without material resources, completely dependent upon God. (This distinction is for the devout poor.) The discourse continues blessing those who mourn, who are meek, who “hunger” for righteousness (to adopt the Lord’s law of love in their hearts), the merciful, the clean of heart (those who are reconciled to God), the peacemakers, the persecuted, and finally those who will be reviled because they profess faith in Christ.

The litany of praises for those to be blessed by the Lord has an overarching theme. It holds up the spiritual strength of complete dependence on God for life, health, and prosperity. St. Matthew captures the strength in that dependence and God’s promise of salvation through the words of the Savior.

It is noteworthy that the word “Blessed” [μακάριοι (makάrios) in Greek and Beati in Latin] is translated “Happy” in many Old Testament texts.  The idea of happiness or peace as a blessing from God is an important understanding about the intent of this discourse.
 CCC: Mt 5:1 581; Mt 5:3-12 1716; Mt 5:3 544, 2546; Mt 5-7 2763; Mt 5-6 764; Mt 5:8 1720, 2518; Mt 5:9 2305, 2330; Mt 5:11-12 520

Eusebius of Vercelli (c. March 2, 283 - August 1, 371) was a Bishop whose singular heroic virtue was his constancy of faith in God and the working of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church. There are times when we may think that the Church of today, fraught with scandals and under constant attack from detractors, is in serious trouble and that never has there been a more dangerous time. If we think that, we would be wrong. The time in Church history when there was most danger was the era into which Eusebius came as the first Bishop of the See of Vercelli in northern Italy at the beginning of the fourth century. The great Christological Schisms were threatening the Church and people were dying in the name of one cause or another as the orthodox teaching on the Trinity was hammered out.

Eusebius fought this fight of words with the spirit of love for those who would harm him and those who adopted Arian beliefs. He came as peace maker to these various faith communities who had been lead astray by well meaning heretics who failed to grasp the truth.

His example and prayer are what we seek on this his feast day. May we too be peace makers and adopt his gentle and loving attitude toward those seeking the truth but not finding it. May we too persevere in our quest for the unity of all Christians and be an example of love for others so that they might see us and know that what we do is for God’s greater glory.


[1] The picture is “Martyrium, Heiligen, Eusebius, Vercelli” by Gaetano Gandolfi, 1784.
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] See NAB Footnote on 1 John 5:1ff

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