SATURDAY AFTER EPIPHANY JANUARY 9, 2021
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 3:22-30
Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized, for John had not yet been imprisoned. Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew about ceremonial washings. So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.”
REFLECTION: “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.”
Saint Marciana of Mauretania was born of nobility in Toledo, Spain in the second century. To escape the worldly life, she moved to Caesarea, Mauretania where she lived in a cave and consecrated herself to God through self-sacrifices and prayer.
Roman Emperor Diocletian ruled Caesarea, Mauretania, where he persecuted Christians and maintained pagan god worship. It is believed Marciana was divinely inspired to leave her isolation to help bring souls to Christ and to fight idolatry. While walking through the city, she struck the head off of a Roman goddess statue, Diana. She was immediately arrested and beaten with rods. After her trial, she was given to gladiators for their disposal, but they were unexplainably overcome with fear and would not move to touch her. Marciana prayed for the gladiators to convert and one actually did become a Christian.
The imperial magistrate was intent on carrying out her death sentence and sent her to be eaten by a lion. In the arena, the lion touched her chest and retreated. At this miraculous sight, some people in the crowd called for her release, but instead, a wild bull was sent to end her life. There, the bull's horn severely wounded her chest, after which she was taken out of the arena, only to be sent in again with a leopard to end her life.
During her trial, facing torture and ultimately death by wild animals, Marciana kept her faith and followed Christ to the end. It is said she prayed, "O Christ, I adore and love Thee. Thou wert with me in the prison and kept me pure. Now Thou dost call me--O my Divine Master-and I go happily to Thee. Receive my soul."
This beautiful bride of Christ received heavenly graces to endure her martyrdom. She chose to totally give herself to the bridegroom, where I can imagine she heard the joy of the best man at their wedding.
Her official feast day is January 9th, but the people of Toledo changed her title to Marciana of Toledo and her memorial date to July 12th when her remains were moved to the city of her birth. She is invoked for curing wounds.
St Marciana pray for us and heal our wounds, so that we, too, may become a fitting bride.