OPTIONAL MEMORIAL OF SAINTS COSMAS AND DAMIAN, MARTYRS SEPTEMBER 26, 2020
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 10:28-33
Jesus said to his Apostles: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."
REFLECTION: “Jesus said to his Apostles: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;”
Today’s saints were two such men who were martyred for their faith. Saints Cosmas and Damian were not necessarily known for performing the first transplant of a leg, but I would imagine they could claim that fame.
These third century twins practiced their Christian faith by healing people without charge. Their reputation grew from astonishing healings of curing fever, blindness and paralysis. And so, they were sentenced to death by drowning during Diocletian’s reign at the hands of Governor Lysias. It is said they were saved by angels from drowning and then were burned at the stake. When that method of execution had no effect, they were stoned and crucified with an extra effort of being shot with arrows. Still, God preserved them and they kept the faith. During these tortures, they stood fast knowing Jesus would acknowledge them to the Father. Finally, they were beheaded and their bodies were taken to Syria where a basilica was built over their tombs.
As pilgrims flocked to the basilica, hundreds of miracles were attributed to them. The most famous is the one of the black leg. There was a devout man with a diseased leg who prayed to the twin saints. One night he dreamed the two saints came to him with an instrument and ointment. They removed his diseased leg and replaced it with a recently deceased Ethiopian man’s leg. When he awoke the next morning, he found he had two healthy legs, one obviously not his own leg.
I can imagine Cosmas and Damian trusted the Lord’s words explaining their worth in the eyes of God. They were filled with compassion and love for others to heal the sick and understood how precious they were to the Father. They accepted their trials and sufferings in order to follow the will of God and did not denied Him when faced with torture and death.
We too can become saints through the grace of God by praying, doing charitable works and receiving the sacraments. Each time we humbly pray, help others out of love, go to confession or receive the Eucharist we can be given the graces necessary to endure the trials of this life. God is ready to fill our hearts with courage because we are precious in His sight.
May the miracles of Saints Cosmas and Damien help us to grow in faith and love for God and encourage us to persevere.