A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME- CYCLE”B”- 8/23/15 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
In 304 AD, the Deacon Vincent of Saragossa, was martyred in Spain, in the final year of the persecutions of the Roman Emperor, Diocletian. The Deacon had been arrested with his Bishop, Valerius. Valerius, who would also become a saint, was exiled. Valerius was an old man with a speech impediment. The Romans weren’t so concerned about him. But because St. Vincent was so young, and refused to turn over the holy books that he had in his custody, the Romans made a particular example of him, inflicting all of their best means of torture on this one, young man. You see, Vincent the Deacon was an extremely affable young man. He was good-looking, and intelligent, and very athletic, and he seemed to be a friend to everyone that he met. Several of the Roman soldiers who were inflicting his tortures on him, were so taken in by his Faith, and his perseverance, and his personality, that they converted on the spot to Christianity themselves, and were immediately martyred for the Faith. St. Vincent the Deacon even converted the head warden of the prison to Christianity, such was his powerful witness. The Romans did everything they could to break this young man’s Faith. They first tried to starve him. Vincent went weeks without food. When the Romans saw that this wasn’t working, and that Vincent was even more resilient in his Faith than ever, and recognizing the young saint’s popularity among other believers, the decision was made to make a particular example out of him. He was stretched on the rack, tearing both bones and his muscles. Then, his flesh was torn with iron hooks. His was then cut with sharp knives, and salt was poured into his wounds. Still, Vincent would not renounce his Faith. Finally, what was left of St. Vincent the Deacon was burned alive on a red-hot gridiron. He was on the fire for hours, and still he didn’t die. St. Vincent’s prayer was that he not die surrounded by pagans, but that he die in the arms of his fellow Christians. After the excruciating horror of the gridiron, Vincent the Deacon was taken back to his cell, where surrounded by his fellow believers, he died. His prayer was answered. Church tradition holds that St. Vincent the Deacon was eighteen or nineteen years old at the time.
What an amazing story, huh? St. Vincent the Deacon ought to inspire all of us to persevere. Today, as we come to the end of our Bread of Life series in John chapter six, we hear Jesus give the Apostles and everybody else the opportunity to walk away. Jesus stands by His teaching. But many do walk away. And it is St. Peter himself who utters the most profound words of the day, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” I wonder, if we were there that day, would we stayed? Or would we have walked away? Even today, Jesus gives us that opportunity every day. The choice is ours.
We know that many today do walk away. They walk away from their baptisms, they walk away from the Church, and they walk away from their relationship with God! And, if we’re honest, we’ve all done our own walking away in our sinfulness, but thank God, like St. Peter, and like St. Vincent the Deacon, we have learned to come back and to persevere.
This Gospel today and our life in the world today also, both remind us of how important it is to be resilient and persevering in the Christian life. We’ve got to stay strong in our Faith! These are wild days and there is so much going on. If we let our Faith get weak or lazy, it is a sure-fire recipe for quitting on God! And then where will we go? What will we do?
We must strive to keep our Faith alive and strong every single day! And how do we do that? We do that with the Bread of Life, The Mass, the Holy Eucharist! The Sacrament of Reconciliation also helps. Certainly the more we know and learn about our Faith, the more help that it is also going to be to us. And we need to have good examples. Saints like St. Vincent the Deacon ought to inspire all of us to persevere even more. We need brothers and sisters in our communities and parishes to inspire us and keep us going. We need to be examples for one another!
This week, let us strive to be good examples for one another! We can do it. The Faith is contagious! St. Vincent the Deacon inspired several generations of Catholic Christians in the years following his death. We can be inspirations to others also!
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This week, we finalize our revisions to the Mass that our Diocese has asked us to get into place by September 13th. This week, we don’t have changes near as much as we have reminders, and one clarification of a clarification. First we are reminded of the two profound bows that we are asked to do during Mass. The first, at the line in the Nicean Creed where we say, “Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”, we are all to bow down. Secondly, when we come up to Communion, we are reminded that we are to make a profound bow to both the Body and the Blood of Christ, right before we we receive both of them. We are reminded NOT to bow to the back of the person in front of us, but to wait and bow when we are directly in front of the Body and Blood. It is our act of reverence towards the Eucharist. Our correction of a correction, is that we are to make sure we are standing at the beginning of our response, our prayer, after the “Pray my brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours, may be acceptable to God our Almighty Father”, rather than standing at the end, or when we are done. Again, according to Bishop Doherty, it is vitally important that we get this right. We’ll keep trying.
God bless us all! Let us be true examples to one another!
+ May God bless us in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!