Thursday, July 16, 2015


"St. Apollinaris"
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN


Additional Information about St. Apollinaris [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Apollinaris

Readings and Commentary: [2]

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I will lead them out from among the peoples
and gather them from the foreign lands;
I will bring them back to their own country
and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel
in the land's ravines and all its inhabited places.
In good pastures will I pasture them,
and on the mountain heights of Israel
shall be their grazing ground.
There they shall lie down on good grazing ground,
and in rich pastures shall they be pastured
on the mountains of Israel.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.
Commentary on Ez 34:11-16
The prophet presents the allegory of God, the shepherd. In this oracle, the vision is God the Father, like a shepherd, will gather the people of Israel from the foreign lands to which they have been driven, and bring them back to “the mountains of Israel.
"This beautiful oracle resounds in our Lord's parable of the Good Shepherd who takes care of his sheep (cf. John 10:1-21), in what he says about the Father's joy on finding the lost sheep (cf. Matthew 18: 12-14; Luke 15:4-7), and in things he has to say about the Last Judgment as reported by St Matthew (Matthew 25:31-46)."[4]
CCC: Ez 34:11-31 754
Psalm 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Commentary on Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Psalm 23 is one of the most familiar songs in the entire psalter. “God's loving care for the psalmist is portrayed under the figures of a shepherd for the flock (Psalm 23:1-4) and a host's generosity toward a guest (Psalm 23:5-6). The imagery of both sections is drawn from traditions of the exodus (Isaiah 40:1149:10Jeremiah 31:10).” [3] While the theme of Shepherd is mentioned in the first strophe, the psalm really speaks to the peace given to those who follow the Lord and place their trust in Him, even into the “dark valley”.
The reference in the third strophe above “You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes” “occurs in an exodus context in Psalm 78:19. As my enemies watch: my enemies see that I am God's friend and guest. Oil: a perfumed ointment made from olive oil, used especially at banquets (Psalm 104:15Matthew 26:7Luke 7:3746John 12:2).”[4]
CCC: Ps 23:5 1293
John 10:11-18

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”
Commentary on Jn 10:11-18
We come to the climax of Jesus' debates with the Jewish leadership. This discourse intensifies our consideration of the topic of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Here the Lord differentiates his love for humanity against those who do not take ownership of their charge. "'He did what he said he would do,' St. Gregory comments; 'He gave his life for his sheep, and he gave his body and blood in the Sacrament to nourish with His flesh the sheep He had redeemed' (In Evangelia Homilae, 14, ad loc.)."[5]
The Lord is in the temple precincts at this point. He came there at a time when many Jews from all over the region would be there, the Feast of Hanukkah. Here he contrasts himself (the Good Shepherd) with false shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:1-16), presumably the Pharisees who fail to recognize him as the Messiah.

Using the analogy of the sheep-fold, he reminds the listener that all manner of people may enter a sheep-fold. Those “false shepherds” scatter the sheep and they fall to utter ruin. But only the rightful owner will be recognized by the sheep and find safety (salvation). The analogy concludes with the universal statement of unity “…there will be one flock, one shepherd."

The final verses speak directly of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the salvation of all: “I lay down my life in order to take it up again.” Special emphasis is placed on Jesus’ ability to lay his life down and take it up through the power he has been given by the Father. We note a contrast here between God’s active role in the resurrection (see Acts 2:24; Acts 4:10.; Romans 1:4; 4:24.) with Jesus' stated power to take up his own life. But even here, credit is given to the Father (“This command I have received from my Father.")
CCC: Jn 10:11-15 754; Jn 10:11 553, 754; Jn 10:16 60; Jn 10:17-18 614, 649; Jn 10:17 606; Jn 10:18 609

St. Apollinaris was one of the early Christian Martyrs.  It is said he was appointed as a Bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter and his preaching and evangelization were tremendous gifts to the early Church.  These same gifts, however, earned him the enmity of the pagans who captured and tortured him on several occasions.  In spite of the beatings, torture, and imprisonment, he persevered in his evangelical work.  He was a true shepherd of the flock, leading the people by his word and example in the face of constant hardships.

In St. John's Gospel he speaks to us about listening to those shepherds who speak with his voice.  We are called to faithfulness and to follow the law of Christ and his Church.  As Apollinaris shows us, and as the Lord himself demonstrated, shepherding the flock is a difficult role.  Like Jesus, St. Apollinaris was also martyred while shepherding his flock.

We call on St. Apollinaris to intercede for us and all those who shepherd the people of God in these difficult times.  May they, like Apollinaris and the martyrs that followed him, pray for us that we might be strong in the face of adversity.


[1] The Picture is a mosaic of "St. Apollinaris", Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[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 Psalm 23
[4] ibid
[5] The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp.625

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