Oct 14 – Memorial for St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr
St. Callistus (d. 223) was born a slave, owned by Carpophorus, a Christian in the household of Caesar. His master entrusted a large sum to Callistus to open a bank, which took in several deposits, made several loans to people who refused to pay them back, and went broke. Knowing he would be personally blamed and punished, Callistus fled, but was caught and returned to his owner. Several depositers begged for his life, believing that he had not lost the money, but had stolen and hid it.
They were wrong; he wasn’t a thief, just a victim, but he was sentenced to work the tin mines. By a quirk of Roman law, the ownership of Callistus was transferred from Carpophorus to the state, and when he was later ransomed out of his sentence with a number of other Christians, he became a free man. Pope St. Zephyrinus put Callistus in charge of the Roman public burial grounds, today still called the Cemetery of Saint Callistus. He later became an archdeacon and the 16th pope.
Most of what we know about him has come down to us from his critics, including an anti-Pope of the day. He was, on more than one occasion, accused of heresy for such actions as permitting a return to Communion for sinners who had repented and done penance, or for proclaiming that differences in economic classes were no barrier to marriage.
This last put him in conflict with Roman civil law, but he stated that in matters concerning the Church and the sacraments, Church law trumped civil law. In both cases he taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today, and though a whole host of schismatics wrote against him, his crime seems to have been to practice orthodox Christianity. He was martyred for his faith.
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Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.
Today’s first reading teaches us to stand fast in spirit and truth. We are to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Holy Spirit of God. For when we submit to His leading and guidance, we are delivered from a life of bondage to all sorts of inclinations of the flesh and set free from legalistic practices, laid down by law.
As I read and reflected on today’s first reading, I was led to reflect on –- stuff. Yes, stuff. Let me explain.
In late July, my dear uncle of 88 years passed away from old age –- as a result of complications from a fall and pneumonia. My uncle came from a family of means, but he led a humble life. The only thing he loved collecting was watches. Today, my aunt is figuring out what she should do with all those watches. They cost a small fortune to buy and it is just too much of a waste to leave them untouched. They have no children and thus, no one to leave these items too. The only logical thing to do is to sell them.
This led me to thinking about my own small collections of ‘stuff’. I amassed quite a number of items when I was still in the corporate world. Just a few days ago, I opened up my shoe closet and dug out several pairs of brand name shoes accumulated through the years. I have at least 15 pairs that will never see the light of day again. These days, I am mainly in sensible comfy sneakers, flatties and slippers. I won’t even begin to count the handbags, clothes, and other items I am too ashamed to name. Today, I look back at the money I wasted on all of these items. How foolish I was back then. The secular world can be so superficial and judgmental on appearances. I was so caught up with the frivolities.
When we are not being led by the Spirit, we are walking in the flesh and not living as God desires; in spirit and in truth. And the sad consequence of a ‘fleshly’ Christian life means that we forfeit the beautiful freedom we have in Christ, and place ourselves back under slavery to sin and legalistic practices, which rely on self and not on God.
Perhaps I am older, perhaps I am less bothered about what people think of me. Perhaps I am just a tad more confident in my own skin. Or perhaps, I am growing deeper in faith and the Spirit is teaching me to live as God desires. Today, I really have no need nor desire for many things. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to judge how people choose to live their lives. I am just making an observation of myself and many people I have encountered in recent times.
An excerpt from an article :
‘A fleshly Christian life and legalistic leanings does not necessarily mean gross indulgence in sexual immorality and other unseemly practices. It does mean that our actions are in opposition to the will of God for our life — for the appetites of the flesh are not necessarily sinful, but they do refer to any works of the flesh that emanate from the old sin nature, (our fleshly heritage before we were born-again), rather than the new-life-in-Christ.
As born again believers, the old life that we received from Adam, through our earthly parents, was crucified with Christ on the cross of Calvary and must remain nailed to the cross. If we are to stand fast in our new-life-in-Christ, walk in newness of life and be led by the Holy Spirit of God. ‘
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Brothers and sisters, let us live a life that stands fast in spirit and truth. A life that is led by God is fruitful. And if we are led by the Spirit and live by the light of God’s truth, we will no longer live in the bondage of earthly and fleshly desires. These are ways of the past, and they stand in stark opposition to the new life that Christ wants for us!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, help me let go of the trappings & vanity in this mundane world, and accompany me back to my heavenly home, when my life’s journey ends.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank You that I have been saved by grace through faith in Christ, and am no longer under the law but under grace. Thank You that my old, fallen nature was crucified with Christ on the cross – and I pray that it will remain nailed to the tree, so that I may be led by the Spirit of God and walk in newness of Christ’s life within. Keep me, I pray, from fleshly inclinations and legalistic practices that place me back in bondage to my old sin nature and the works of the flesh. Help me to live and move and have my being in You.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.