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WEDNESDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME SAINT SEBASTIAN OPTIONAL MEMORIAL JANUARY 20, 2021


St Sebastian, Patron Saint of Soldiers



A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.


REFLECTION: "But they remained silent."


Over and over again, St Augustine reminds us that we were created to praise God. So when Jesus brings forward the man with the withered hand, one would expect the Pharisees to be filled with joy as Jesus was doing good for this man. Yet He was met with silence. His words and works fall flat on the Pharisees.


Today we are introduced to St Sebastian, known for his kindness and compassions for the persecuted martyred Christians.

Scholars agree that Sebastian entered the Roman army because only there could he assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion.


Finally he was found out, brought before Emperor Diocletian and delivered to the Mauritanian archers to be shot to death. A slow and painful death was what the Emperor wanted. His body was pierced with arrows, and he was left for dead. But he was found still alive by those who came to bury him. He recovered, but refused to flee. He refused to be silent.


One day he took up a position near where the emperor was to pass. He accosted the emperor, denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians. This time the sentence of death was carried out.


Sebastian was beaten to death with clubs. He was a Roman martyr venerated in Milan and buried on the Appian Way. His relic is buried near the present Basilica of St Sebastian.


He was truly a hero, outspoken and fearless. He was not bogged down by legalism, or speeches, but he was full of action putting forth his words into works.


In today's gospel, Jesus is seeking nothing but good and life giving. Yet the Pharisees could not see past their pride and their legalism so that the man's needs were nowhere in their thoughts. There is no joy or praise in their hearts.


The law has become their god. Have we allowed our self interest to become our god, our praise and our joy? In this present culture where compassion for one another may be hard to find, can we look at the mirror and see a little of the Pharisee in us? God should be the only one worthy of our undivided praise and joy. When we are faced with intervening in the lives of others who need our help, our kindness or perhaps our experience or knowledge, do we give it all we have to the point of becoming a martyr?


May we never be silent in the Word of God. May we always, through our faith and courage, be heroes and heroines of Christ.


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