Monday, 16 September 2013

Cornelius, Pope and Martyr,
and Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

Saint Cornelius was ordained bishop of the Church of Rome in 251. He fought against the Novatian schismatics and with the help of Cyprian was able to enforce his authority. Driven into exile by the Emperor Gallus, he died in 253 at Civitavecchia. His body was brought to Rome where he was buried in the cemetery of Saint Callistus.
Saint Cyprian was born of pagan parents in Carthage around the year 210. He was converted, ordained, and subsequently made bishop of that city in the year 249. By his writings and his actions Cyprian guided the Church through difficult times. In the persecution of Valerian he was exiled, then martyred on the fourteenth of September, 258.
 Reflections:    A few weeks ago, another small act by Pope Francis got international notice:   " The Pope declares Atheists don't need God in order to be saved". What a scoop! 
Except, that's not quite what he said now is it!? Well, the problem is, what he did say was in a very long letter in response to another long letter..and really, who has time to read two long letters!!  (I can't tell if i'm being sarcastic or not!)  But there's some good summaries of it all out this one here.  The bottom line is that, like Paul in his letter to Timothy,  the Pope makes it clear that there is 'a condition' for salvation. It's not enough to be a nice guy/girl.  Everyone is saved, but we all must play an active part in our own salvation. In Francis' case, that role is one of acting with good conscience every day of our life, and with contrition before God. For Paul, it's not so much a question of a good conscience, but a deep prayer life.  
  The Gospel points us to another 'non believer' who has an unexpected faith.  And not just any old faith..but one of the strongest examples of it in the New Testament.  To begin with, the Roman centurion (so, a pagan) has this spirit of humility that Francis call on us to have to day - 'I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof'.- (a phrase that has become one of the most important parts of the new translation of the Mass. It's the words we say before communion!) . But more importantly, he trusts. He understands how authority works, and he recognizes Jesus' spiritual authority, and his ability to work miracles. His faith amazes even Jesus, who had seen all kinds of people of faith all over Ancient Palestine, and had never encountered such a faith.

 I personally believe this is what Francis is speaking to. He sees in  Atheists have the capacity for great good, and even for spirituality.  They claim their rationality, their 'science' or their understanding prevents them from believing in God. Francis, and others before him, see more in them.  Maybe they never will believe in God...but they will still live beautiful lives, many of them will even be holy in their own little way. Rather than living up to the 'us vs them' dichotomy we currently experience in our world, why not embrace the deep spirituality of our Atheists Brethren, and pray that somewhere down the line, they too will see the Glory of the Lord, laboring alongside them, making everything in our world, so much more beautiful.


1 Timothy 2: 1 - 8

1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men,2for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.3This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,6who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.7For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.8I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
Psalms 28: 2, 7 - 9

2Hear the voice of my supplication, as I cry to thee for help, as I lift up my hands toward thy most holy sanctuary.7The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.8The LORD is the strength of his people, he is the saving refuge of his anointed.9O save thy people, and bless thy heritage; be thou their shepherd, and carry them for ever. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Luke 7: 1 - 10

1After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people he entered Caper'na-um.
2Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death.
3When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave.
4And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have you do this for him,
5for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue."
6And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof;
7therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.
8For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes; and to another, `Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, `Do this,' and he does it."
9When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
10And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.

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