Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time & St. Sebastian, January 20,2018
Probably a native of Milan, Sebastian is said to have been a member of the Roman Army and was martyred around the year 300 A.D. during the Diocletian persecutions. His remains were buried in a basilica on the Appian Way that bears his name. Renaissance painters portraying Sebastian focused on the story that he was found out to be a Christian and shot with arrows repeatedly by his fellow soldiers. He is said to have survived this torture, nursed back to health by Saint Irene. When he confronted Diocletian, clubbing killed him. Because Sebastian’s many wounds evoked the physiognomy of plague victims, he was invoked against that scourge. He is invoked as the patron of soldiers, policemen and those who organize neighborhood watch programs also call upon him. Later, he was called upon as a patron saint of physicians.
“Lord, may I always put you first and find joy in doing your will. May your love and charity grow in me, especially in the face of opposition and adversity.” In the mighty Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
2 Sm 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27
David returned from his defeat of the Amalekites
and spent two days in Ziklag.
On the third day a man came from Saul’s camp,
with his clothes torn and dirt on his head.
Going to David, he fell to the ground in homage.
David asked him, “Where do you come from?”
He replied, “I have escaped from the camp of the children of Israel.”
“Tell me what happened,” David bade him.
He answered that many of the soldiers had fled the battle
and that many of them had fallen and were dead,
among them Saul and his son Jonathan.
David seized his garments and rent them,
and all the men who were with him did likewise.
They mourned and wept and fasted until evening
for Saul and his son Jonathan,
and for the soldiers of the LORD of the clans of Israel,
because they had fallen by the sword.
“Alas! the glory of Israel, Saul,
slain upon your heights;
how can the warriors have fallen!
“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and cherished,
separated neither in life nor in death,
swifter than eagles, stronger than lions!
Women of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and in finery,
who decked your attire with ornaments of gold.
“How can the warriors have fallen–
in the thick of the battle,
slain upon your heights!
“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother!
most dear have you been to me;
more precious have I held love for you than love for women.
“How can the warriors have fallen,
the weapons of war have perished!”
The word of the Lord.
R. (4b) Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
O guide of the flock of Joseph!
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
O LORD of hosts, how long will you burn with anger
while your people pray?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in ample measure.
You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Jesus and his relatives
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
The popularity of Jesus created much speculation from various points of view, from Herod, the Pharisees and even from His family. They all came up with their own theories about Jesus and His ministry.
Jesus was simply going about the “His Father’s business” but was found to be eccentric, queer and mad. This is not surprising as even people of this age may concoct some impressions and conclusions about those who appear to be so dedicated to God and His Word. When people are so committed to our Lord and they go out of their way to seriously pursue their work for Him, one can almost see the sneer and arrogant laughter of those who cannot see the beauty of their work. They may be considered fanatics as the comments, “You might be too good for heaven” will be quite the ordinary. When people are so “sold out” for Jesus, those around them, even family and close friends may think they have “lost it.”
When people turnaround from their old lives, do good and do exactly the opposite of their old lives, some may be astonished and happy while there are those who will say, “this man has gone crazy.” Human perspective on things is so warped that people find fault even on what is good and acceptable yet find it so easy to accept what is broken and sinful. There may be some who will talk them out not to do what God has led them to do. Even those who have acknowledged Jesus as their Lord and Savior may not understand and try to “get hold of those who are dedicated to our Lord because they begin to believe the good and holy ones, may have gone off the deep end.”
Today we should note that quite a number have the attitude that a little religion is a good thing, but should not be taken too far. This was not far from the thoughts of the Pharisees and even of Jesus’ family when they saw Him not following the traditions of the elders, seemingly being fanatical and suffering from delusions of grandeur. Jesus’ relatives thought that the only thing left to do was to go and bring Him back home, where He would be out of the public eye, and try to get Him some help.
But to those who are guided by the Spirit and are used to viewing things through the vision of God, theirs can be a different conclusion. Only those who are willing to see from God’s point of view would come to see Christ as a man sent from God. Only those who do the will of God is brother, sister and mother, will be able to see beyond the world and see everything from God’s eyes. “And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. (For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:34-35
As Christians, we should be deeply committed to Christ. Have a firm resolve to stay away from SIN.
Heavenly Father, fill my heart your grace, so that I may remain committed to your word and always abide by your will. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – People were saying of Jesus, ‘He is beside himself’
Is the Lord Jesus honored in your home? Why would Jesus’ relatives be so upset with him when he began his public ministry? On one occasion Jesus remarked that a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household (Matthew 10:36). The Gospel of Mark records the reaction of Jesus’ relatives when he went home: they came to seize him. They, no doubt, thought that Jesus must have gone mad or become a religious fanatic. How could a good home-body from Nazareth leave his carpentry trade and go off to become a traveling preacher? To their way of thinking, Jesus had thrown away the security and safety of a quiet and respectable life close to his family and relatives.
Do not be afraid to follow Jesus all the way
Jesus probably expected to meet opposition from the highest religious authorities in Jerusalem. For him to meet opposition from his own relatives must have been even harder. When we choose to be disciples of the Lord Jesus and to follow his will for our lives, we can expect to meet opposition from those who are opposed to the Gospel message and Christian way of life. But the hardest opposition may actually come from someone close to us, a family member or close friend who doesn’t want us to take the Gospel message too seriously.
Jesus met opposition – whether from family, friend, or foe – with grace and determination to fulfill his Father’s will. Are you ready to obey and follow the Lord Jesus even if others oppose your doing so?
“Lord Jesus, may I always put you first and find joy in doing your will. May your love and charity grow in me, especially in the face of opposition and adversity.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2018/jan20.htm
Reflection 3 – Scriptural cliff-hanger
Saturday’s Gospel reading is disturbingly too short. It makes me realize that there was a human side to the decision-making that went into setting up the lectionary.
Jesus entered into the house with his disciples. A crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard about this, they set out to seize him. They said, “He is out of his mind.”
On second thought, perhaps stopping the story at this very disturbing point is exactly what the Holy Spirit wants. In any good joke, the last words are the punch-line. In a well-crafted article, the last words of a paragraph invite readers to continue. In a mystery story, the cliff-hanger keeps us coming back to see what happens next. This scripture is all three.
It’s a good joke, and if we listen carefully, we can hear Jesus laughing. He’s not insulted by the conclusion they jumped to. He knows Who he is, what his mission is, and how much more “in his right mind” he is than others are. In the confidence of knowing the truth, false conclusions seem downright funny.
It’s certainly a well-crafted scripture. The Holy Spirit is inviting us to continue reading. We’re not supposed to limit ourselves to what is given to us in the current day’s readings. We’re supposed to be mature enough and interested enough to pick up the Bible on our own and keep reading. (Spoiler alert: The story continues on Monday, and the next thing that happens is Jesus is accused of working for the devil. Well, that’s worth a big laugh!)
It’s a good mystery story, and the cliff-hanger is one that invites us to ponder over the weekend how Jesus handles false accusations. What clues is the Lord giving us about what he wants to teach us about it?
Remember when someone thought that you were out of your mind? I can’t count how many times people have made wrong assumptions about me. I’ve lost friends, readers, board members, and family because of it. It hurts, and because we want to be humble, we question our own sanity, giving too much credence to false accusations, which leads to confusion, side-tracking us from doing what the Lord is calling us to do.
They said about Jesus, “He is out of his mind.” What does he want you and me to learn from this? If we can realize how funny every false accusation really is, instead of being crushed by them, we will chuckle and turn them into opportunities, like Jesus did, to push the focus off of ourselves and onto the bigger picture, the more important issue, the truth that has been hidden from the eyes of our accusers, all the while seeking out those who are willing to hear and learn this truth.
When we’ve been freshly accused falsely, we’re standing on the precipice of a cliff-hanger. The story of our situation is disturbingly short. To get through it with a chuckle instead of angst, we need to put our focus back on Jesus who is inviting us to move beyond the cliff. Here are a few WordBytes that can help; pick one (at least):
- Have your good works been misunderstood?
- Have you been falsely accused?
- Is anyone refusing to accept you for who you really are?
- Is anyone confusing you into believing a lie and compromising your values?
- Are there “pharisees” in your life (people who hurt you while thinking they do God’s will)?
- Are you being persecuted for speaking the truth?
- Are you in need of comfort?
And if you’re a caregiver for someone who is mistreating you through their dementia-driven false accusations, here’s a Caregiver’s Prayer that I wrote from personal experience:
Reflection 4 – St. Sebastian (257?-288? A.D.)
Almost 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 (December 7) 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.
Another legend describes Sebastian’s effectiveness in bolstering the courage of those in prison. Two men under sentence of death seemed about to give in to their captors. Sebastian’s impassioned exhortation to constancy not only confirmed the two in their original convications but won over many other prisoners in the jail. Again, this particular story may not be historically accurate. But it is true that all saints witness to Jesus both by word and action.
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.
Patron Saint of: Athletes
Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s)
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1266
SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Sebastian
|SAINT SEBASTIAN OF AVLA|
Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, by Il Sodoma, c. 1525
|CAPTAIN OF THE PRAETORIAN GUARD
ROMAN SOLDIER, HEALER AND MARTYR
|BORN||Narbonne, Gaul c. 256 AD|
|DIED||20 January, 287 AD|
|VENERATED IN||Catholic Church
|FEAST||January 20 (Catholic),
December 18 (Eastern Orthodox)
|ATTRIBUTES||Tied to a post, pillar or a tree, shot by arrows, clubbed to death|
|PATRONAGE||Soldiers, plague-stricken, archers, holy Christian death, athletes, Roman Catholic Diocese of Tarlac|
Saint Sebastian (died c. 288) was an early Christian saint and martyr. According to Christian belief, he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian‘s persecution of Christians. He is commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows. Despite this being the most common artistic depiction of Sebastian, he was, according to legend, rescued and healed by Irene of Rome. Shortly afterwards he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death. He is venerated in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
The details of Saint Sebastian’s martyrdom were first spoken of by 4th-century bishop Ambrose of Milan (Saint Ambrose), in his sermon (number 22) on Psalm 118. Ambrose stated that Sebastian came from Milan and that he was already venerated there at that time. Saint Sebastian is a popular male saint, especially among athletes.
According to Sebastian’s 18th-century entry in Acta Sanctorum,still attributed to Ambrose by the 17th-century hagiographer Jean Bolland, and the briefer account in the 14th-century Legenda Aurea, he was a man of Gallia Narbonensis who was taught in Milan. In 283, Sebastian entered the army at Rome under Emperor Carinus to assist the martyrs. Because of his courage he became one of the captains of the Praetorian Guards under Diocletian andMaximian, who were unaware that he was a Christian.
According to tradition, Marcus and Marcellian were twin brothers from a distinguished family and were deacons. Both brothers married, and they resided in Rome with their wives and children. The brothers refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and were arrested. They were visited by their parents Tranquillinus and Martia in prison, who attempted to persuade them to renounce Christianity. Sebastian succeeded in converting Tranquillinus and Martia, as well as Saint Tiburtius, the son of Chromatius, the local prefect. Another official, Nicostratus, and his wife Zoe were also converted. It has been said that Zoe had been a mute for six years; however, she made known to Sebastian her desire to be converted to Christianity. As soon as she had, her speech returned to her. Nicostratus then brought the rest of the prisoners; these 16 persons were converted by Sebastian.
Chromatius and Tiburtius converted; Chromatius set all of his prisoners free from jail, resigned his position, and retired to the country in Campania. Marcus and Marcellian, after being concealed by a Christian named Castulus, were later martyred, as were Nicostratus, Zoe, and Tiburtius.
Sebastian had prudently concealed his faith, but in 286 was detected. Diocletian reproached him for his supposed betrayal, and he commanded him to be led to a field and there to be bound to a stake so that certain archers from Mauritania would shoot arrows at him. “And the archers shot at him till he was as full of arrows as an urchin,” leaving him there for dead. Miraculously, the arrows did not kill him. The widow of Castulus, Irene of Rome, went to retrieve his body to bury it, and she discovered he was still alive. She brought him back to her house and nursed him back to health.
Sebastian later stood by a staircase where the emperor was to pass and harangued Diocletian for his cruelties against Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the emperor; but, recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for his being seized and beat to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer. A pious lady, called Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, got it privately removed, and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus, where now stands the Basilica of St. Sebastian.
Sebastian was said to be a defense against the plague. The Golden Legend transmits the episode of a great plague that afflicted theLombards in the time of King Gumburt, which was stopped by the erection of an altar in honor of Sebastian in the Church of Saint Peter in the Province of Pavia.
Location of remains
Remains reputed to be those of Sebastian are housed in Rome in the Basilica Apostolorum, built by Pope Damasus I in 367 on the site of the provisional tomb of Saints Peter and Paul. The church, today called San Sebastiano fuori le mura, was rebuilt in the 1610s under the patronage of Scipione Borghese.
St. Ado, Eginard, Sigebert, and other contemporary authors relate that, in the reign of Louis Debonnair, Pope Eugenius II gave the body of St. Sebastian to Hilduin, Abbot of St. Denys, who brought it into France, and it was deposited at Saint Medard Abbey, at Soissons, on the 8th of December, in 826.
Sebastian’s cranium was brought to the town of Ebersberg (Germany) in 934. A Benedictine abbey was founded there and became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in southern Germany.It is said the silver-encased cranium was used as a cup in which to present wine to the faithful during the feast of Saint Sebastian.
In art and literature
The earliest representation of Sebastian is a mosaic in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (Ravenna, Italy) dated between 527 and 565. The right lateral wall of the basilica contains large mosaics representing a procession of 26 martyrs, led by Saint Martin and including Sebastian. The martyrs are represented in Byzantine style, lacking any individuality, and all have identical expressions.
Another early representation is in a mosaic in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Rome, Italy), probably made in the year 682. It shows a grown, bearded man in court dress but contains no trace of an arrow. The archers and arrows begin to appear by 1000, and ever since have been far more commonly shown than the actual moment of his death by clubbing, so that there is a popular misperception that this is how he died.
As protector of potential plague victims (a connection popularized by the Golden Legend) and soldiers, Sebastian occupied an important place in the popular medieval mind. He was among the most frequently depicted of all saints by Late Gothic and Renaissance artists, in the period after the Black Death. The opportunity to show a semi-nude male, often in a contorted pose, also made Sebastian a favourite subject. His shooting with arrows was the subject of the largest engraving by the Master of the Playing Cards in the 1430s, when there were few other current subjects with male nudes other than Christ. Sebastian appears in many other prints and paintings, although this was due to his popularity with the faithful. Among many others, Botticelli, Perugino, Titian, Pollaiuolo, Giovanni Bellini, Guido Reni (who painted the subject seven times), Mantegna (three times), Hans Memling, Gerrit van Honthorst, Luca Signorelli, El Greco, Honoré Daumier, John Singer Sargent and Louise Bourgeois all painted Saint Sebastians. An early work by the sculptorGianlorenzo Bernini is of Saint Sebastian.
The saint is ordinarily depicted as a handsome youth pierced by arrows. Predella scenes when required, often depicted his arrest, confrontation with the Emperor, and final beheading. The illustration in the infobox is the Saint Sebastian of Il Sodoma, at the Pitti Palace, Florence.
A mainly 17th-century subject, though found in predella scenes as early as the 15th century, was St Sebastian tended bySt Irene, painted by Georges de La Tour, Trophime Bigot (four times), Jusepe de Ribera, Hendrick ter Brugghen (inperhaps his masterpiece) and others. This may have been a deliberate attempt by the Church to get away from the single nude subject, which is already recorded in Vasari as sometimes arousing inappropriate thoughts among female churchgoers. The Baroque artists usually treated it as a nocturnal chiaroscuro scene, illuminated by a single candle, torch or lantern, in the style fashionable in the first half of the 17th century. There exist several cycles depicting the life of Saint Sebastian. Among them are the frescos in the “Basilica di San Sebastiano” of Acireale (Italy) with paintings by Pietro Paolo Vasta.
Egon Schiele, an Austrian Expressionist artist, painted a self-portrait as Saint Sebastian in 1915. During Salvador Dalí‘s “Lorca (Federico García Lorca) Period”, he painted Sebastian several times, most notably in his “Neo-Cubist Academy”.
In 1911, the Italian playwright Gabriele d’Annunzio in conjunction with Claude Debussy produced a mystery play on the subject. The American composer Gian Carlo Menotti composed a ballet score for a Ballets Russes production which was first given in 1944. In his novella Death in Venice, Thomas Mann hails the “Sebastian-Figure” as the supreme emblem of Apollonian beauty, that is, the artistry of differentiated forms; beauty as measured by discipline, proportion, and luminous distinctions. This allusion to Saint Sebastian’s suffering, associated with the writerly professionalism of the novella’s protagonist, Gustav Aschenbach, provides a model for the “heroism born of weakness”, which characterizes poise amidst agonizing torment and plain acceptance of one’s fate as, beyond mere patience and passivity, a stylized achievement and artistic triumph.
Sebastian’s death was depicted in the 1949 film Fabiola, in which he was played by Massimo Girotti. In 1976, the British director Derek Jarman made a film, Sebastiane, which caused controversy in its treatment of the martyr as a homosexual icon. However, as several critics have noted, this has been a subtext of the imagery since the Renaissance. Also in 1976, a figure of Saint Sebastian appeared throughout the American horror film Carrie.
Pietro Vannucci Perugino’s painting (c. 1495) of Saint Sebastian is featured in the 2001 movie Wit starring Emma Thompson. Thompson’s character, as a college student, visits her professor’s office, where an almost life-size painting of Saint Sebastian hangs on the wall. Later, when the main character is a professor herself, diagnosed with cancer, she keeps a small print of this same painting of Saint Sebastian next to her hospital bed. The allusion appears to be to Sebastian’s stoic martyrdom – a role the Thompson character has willingly accepted for the betterment of all mankind. There may be a touch of authorial (or directorial) cynicism in making this “saintly” connection.
British pop band Alt-J‘s video for Hunger of the Pine contains references to the story of Saint Sebastian’s death, adapted to fit the lyrics of the song. Tarsem Singh‘s video for the R.E.M. song “Losing My Religion” makes use of imagery of St. Sebastian, drawing particular inspiration from paintings by Guido Reni andCaravaggio
As a protector from the bubonic plague, Sebastian was formerly one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. The connection of the martyr shot with arrows with the plague is not an intuitive one, however. In Greco-Roman myth, Apollo, the archer god, is the deliverer of pestilence; the figure of Sebastian Christianizes this folkloric association. The chronicler Paul the Deacon relates that, in 680, Rome was freed from a raging pestilence by him.
Sebastian, like Saint George, was one of a class of military martyrsand soldier saints of the Early Christian Church whosecults originated in the 4th century and culminated at the end of the Middle Ages, in the 14th and 15th centuries both in the East and the West. Details of their martyrologies may provoke some skepticism among modern readers, but certain consistent patterns emerge that are revealing of Christian attitudes. In Catholicism, Sebastian is the patron saint of archers, athletes, and of a holy death.
Sebastian is one of the patron saints of the city of Qormi in Maltaalong with Saint George. Sebastian is the patron saint of Acireale, Caserta and Petilia Policastro in Italy, Melilli in Sicily, and San Sebastián as well as Palma de Mallorca in Spain. He is the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Informally, in the tradition of the Afro-Brazilian syncretic religion Umbanda, Sebastian is often associated with Oxossi, especially in the state of Rio de Janeiro itself.
In his 1906 Reminiscences, Carl Schurz recalls the annual “bird shoot” pageant of the Rhenish town of Liblar which was sponsored by the Saint Sebastian Society, a club of sharpshooters and their sponsors to which nearly every adult member of town belonged.
The St. Sebastian River is named for him. It is a tributary of the Indian River Lagoon and comprises part of the boundary between Indian River County and Brevard County in Florida. The adjacent city of Sebastian, Florida and St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park are also named for Saint Sebastian.
- The 3 paintings by Mantegna
- Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, Claude Debussy
- Saint Sebastian at the Column
- Military saint
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- Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). “St. Sebastian”. My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 22–23. ISBN 971-91595-4-5.
- “Saint Sebastian”, Associated & Catholic Colleges of Western Australia
- “Saint Sebastian Interceding for the Plague Stricken”. The Walters Art Museum.
- Acta S. Sebastiani Martyris, in J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus Accurante (Paris 1845), XVII, 1021–581221; abbreviated in Jacob de Voragine, Legenda Aurea.
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- Legenda Aurea
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