Thursday, October 14, 2010

The LORD Has Made Known His Salvation.

Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Ephesians 1:1-10
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
to the holy ones who are in Ephesus
and faithful in Christ Jesus:
grace to you and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him,
before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself
through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In Christ we have redemption by his Blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace
that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight,
he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him
as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ,
in heaven and on earth.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 98
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Luke 11:47-54
The Lord said:
“Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute’
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation
will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter
and you stopped those trying to enter.”
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees
began to act with hostility toward him
and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting
to catch him at something he might say.
St. Callistus I
(d. 223?)

The most reliable information about this saint comes from his enemy St. Hippolytus, an early antipope, later a martyr for the Church. A negative principle is used: If some worse things had happened, Hippolytus would surely have mentioned them.

Callistus was a slave in the imperial Roman household. Put in charge of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled and was caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far, being arrested for brawling in a Jewish synagogue. This time he was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released through the influence of the emperor's mistress and lived at Anzio (site of a famous World War II beachhead).

After winning his freedom, Callistus was made superintendent of the public Christian burial ground in Rome (still called the cemetery of St. Callistus), probably the first land owned by the Church. The pope ordained him a deacon and made him his friend and adviser.

He was elected pope by a majority vote of the clergy and laity of Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, St. Hippolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the history of the Church. The schism lasted about 18 years.

Hippolytus is venerated as a saint. He was banished during the persecution of 235 and was reconciled to the Church. He died from his sufferings in Sardinia. He attacked Callistus on two fronts—doctrine and discipline. Hippolytus seems to have exaggerated the distinction between Father and Son (almost making two gods) possibly because theological language had not yet been refined. He also accused Callistus of being too lenient, for reasons we may find surprising: (1) Callistus admitted to Holy Communion those who had already done public penance for murder, adultery, fornication; (2) he held marriages between free women and slaves to be valid—contrary to Roman law; (3) he authorized the ordination of men who had been married two or three times; (4) he held that mortal sin was not a sufficient reason to depose a bishop; (5) he held to a policy of leniency toward those who had temporarily denied their faith during persecution.

Callistus was martyred during a local disturbance in Trastevere, Rome, and is the first pope (except for Peter) to be commemorated as a martyr in the earliest martyrology of the Church.


The life of this man is another reminder that the course of Church history, like that of true love, never did run smooth. The Church had to (and still must) go through the agonizing struggle to state the mysteries of the faith in language that, at the very least, sets up definite barriers to error. On the disciplinary side, the Church had to preserve the mercy of Christ against rigorism while still upholding the gospel ideal of radical conversion and self-discipline. Every pope—indeed every Christian—must walk the difficult path between "reasonable" indulgence and "reasonable" rigorism.


His contemporaries, Jesus said, were "like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.' For John [the Baptist] came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners'" (Matthew 11:16b-19a).

Saint of the Day

1 comment:

Sarah in the tent said...

'Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed.'

The Pharisees might have been involved in building memorials for pilgrims to visit, but building memorials could also refer to the fact that they taught the people to remember the Prophets. History is written by the victors. It is the misfortune of the Pharisees at the time of Jesus to be teaching about the Prophets in the same tradition as their forefathers who killed those Prophets, or at least were incapable/unwilling to hear them. Even if they didn't actually participate in murder, 'killing' a Prophet's words (silencing or glossing over their prophecies) amounts essentially to killing the Prophet.

'Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.'

The prophecies regarding Christ in the Old Testament are very plainly fulfilled by Jesus but those Pharisees who follow in the footsteps of their forefathers cannot/will not proclaim this fact and even try to prevent the people from proclaiming it spontaneously.

'Yes, I tell you, this generation
will be charged with their blood!'

Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets - so His blood, shed by 'this generation', is the fulfillment of the Prophets' blood from Abel to Zechariah. The life-blood shed by the Prophets could also be seen as God's living word in their prophecies - after all, that is the life that people really wanted to extinguish. The Prophets died for what they said.

Our Lord's words sound harsh here, but I think it might be important that He says 'charged with', not 'condemned for'. The Pharisees have a burden of responsibility for the continuing life and memorial of the Prophets. The time has now come when they will be held to account for how they discharge that duty. But for those whose hearts are open to conversion, Christ's blood brings mercy, redemption and reconciliation, not condemnation:

'In Christ we have redemption by his Blood, the forgiveness of transgressions.'