Jan 20 – Memorial for St. Fabian, pope and martyr; Memorial for St. Sebastian, martyr
Pope St. Fabian (d. 250) was a layman and a farmer. He came into Rome on a day when a new pope was to be elected. A dove flew in and settled on his head. The gathered clergy and laity took this as a sign that Fabian had been anointed, and he was chosen Pope by acclamation.
He sent St. Dionysius and other missionaries to Gaul, and condemned the heresies of Privatus. He was martyred for his faith in the persecutions of Decius.
St. Sebastian (d. 288) was the son of a wealthy Roman family. He was educated in Milan and became an officer of the Imperial Roman army, and captain of the guard. He was a favourite of Diocletian. During Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians, Sebastian visited them in prison, bringing supplies and comfort. He was reported to have healed the wife of a brother soldier by making the Sign of the Cross over her. He converted soldiers and a governor.
He was charged as a Christian, tied to a tree, shot with arrows, and was left for dead. He survived, recovered, and returned to preach to Diocletian. The emperor then had him beaten to death.
During the 14th century, the random nature of infection with the Black Death caused people to liken the plague to their villages being shot by an army of nature’s archers. In desperation, they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and St. Sebastian became associated with the plague.
- Patron Saint Index
“You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.”
It’s the beginning of the new year and already the world is at it with the scrutinisation of laws, changes in policies for one’s selfish gains or as a form of revenge. We spend more time in finding fault with our laws and policies rather than providing solutions or understanding the intentions behind them. Law and policy makers also seem to be using their ‘power’ to achieve specific outcomes rather than for the good of humanity.
This is what we see in our Gospel today as well, where the Pharisees couldn’t understand the reason for the law and couldn’t wait for Jesus to ‘go against’ the law, so as to destroy Him. When we reflect on why the Pharisees behaved as such, there could be an element of waiting for an opportunity to take revenge, and also the possibility of being jealous of Jesus. The Pharisees were unable to see Jesus for who He truly is, they were unable to see the laws for what they actually represent, as they could be blinded by greed and pride.
Today’s readings remind us how Christ, like Melchizedek, is King of Righteousness, King of Peace and Priest forever. He is so, not because He follows the law, but because He obeys the laws. We, by our baptism, are also called to be Priest, Prophet and King, not in title or literally, but by our action and response to God’s commandments and teachings. To do good and not evil, to save and not destroy. In that, we proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and show the world that the word of God is alive and active.
The world may seem too big of a challenge for us to impact, but Saint Teresa of Calcutta, reminds us that even if we can’t do great things, we can start by doing small things with great love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for our world and religious leaders, law and policy makers, that in their leadership, may their decisions be that for human good rather than for selfish reasons or revenge. That the Holy Spirit may truly ignite their hearts and minds to see beyond themselves, to be caring and loving individuals, and make wise decisions. Amen.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord, for all our priests who have given of themselves to be of service to you. We thank you for their sacrifice, patience, care and love. We ask that you continue to bless and protect them in their ministry and to always have a heart that is after yours. Amen.