Thursday, January 20, 2011

Here Am I, LORD; I Come To Do Your Will

Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 7:25--8:6
Jesus is always able to save those
who approach God through him,
since he lives forever
to make intercession for them.

It was fitting that we should have such a high priest:
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,
higher than the heavens.
He has no need, as did the high priests,
to offer sacrifice day after day,
first for his own sins
and then for those of the people;
he did that once for all
when he offered himself.
For the law appoints men subject to weakness
to be high priests,
but the word of the oath,
which was taken after the law,
appoints a son,
who has been made perfect forever.

The main point of what has been said is this:
we have such a high priest,
who has taken his seat
at the right hand of the throne
of the Majesty in heaven,
a minister of the sanctuary
and of the true tabernacle
that the Lord, not man, set up.

Now every high priest is appointed
to offer gifts and sacrifices;
thus the necessity for this one also
to have something to offer.
If then he were on earth,
he would not be a priest,
since there are those who offer gifts
according to the law.
They worship in a copy and shadow
of the heavenly sanctuary,
as Moses was warned
when he was about to erect the tabernacle.
For God says, “See that you make everything
according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
Now he has obtained
so much more excellent a ministry
as he is mediator of a better covenant,
enacted on better promises.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 40
R. Here am I, 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 am I, 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 am I, 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 am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 3:7-12
Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed
from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people
came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him
because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result,
those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him
they would fall down before him
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.
St. Sebastian

Nothing is historically certain about St. Sebastian except that he was a Roman martyr, was venerated in Milan even in the time of St. Ambrose and was buried on the Appian Way, probably near the present Basilica of St. Sebastian. Devotion to him spread rapidly, and he is mentioned in several martyrologies as early as A.D. 350.

The legend of St. Sebastian is important in art, and there is a vast iconography. Scholars now agree that a pious fable has Sebastian entering the Roman army because only there could he assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion. Finally he was found out, brought before Emperor Diocletian and delivered to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death. His body was pierced with arrows, and he was left for dead. But he was found still alive by those who came to bury him. He recovered, but refused to flee. One day he took up a position near where the emperor was to pass. He accosted the emperor, denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians. This time the sentence of death was carried out. Sebastian was beaten to death with clubs. HE was buried on the Appian Way, close to the catacombs that bear his name.

The fact that many of the early saints made such a tremendous impression on the Church—awakening widespread devotion and great praise from the greatest writers of the Church—is proof of the heroism of their lives. As has been said, legends may not be literally true. Yet they may express the very substance of the faith and courage evident in the lives of these heroes and heroines of Christ.

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