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 <A HREF="http://netministries.org/churches/ch01227/PRAYER.HTM">PRAYER.HTM at
netministries.org</A> 
http://netministries.org/churches/ch01227/PRAYER.HTM

Wednesday - Week II of Ordinary Time 
20 Jan 99  Saint Sebastian 
GOSPEL OF THE DAY 

Jesus returned to the synagogue where there was a man whose hand was shriveled
up. The Pharisees kept an eye on Jesus to see whether he would heal him on the
sabbath, hoping to be able to bring an accusation against him. He addressed
the man with the shriveled hand: "Stand up here in front!" Then he said to
them: "Is it permitted to do a good deed on the sabbath - or an evil one? To
preserve life - or to destroy it?" At this they remained silent. He looked
around at them angrily, for he was deeply grieved that they had closed their
minds against him. Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." The man
did so and his hand was perfectly restored. When the Pharisees went outside,
they immediately began to plot with the Herodians on how they might destroy
him. 
(Mark 3: 1-6)
"They brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons" 

What is God's intention for the commandment, keep holy the Sabbath (Exodus
20:8; Deut. 5:12)? The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus in the act
of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God's law.

In a few penetrating words Luke records that Jesus knew their thoughts. They
were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own
thoughts of right and wrong above God. They were ensnared in their own
legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God. Jesus
shows their fallacy by pointing to God's intention for the Sabbath: to do good
and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life. 

Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord's Day, to commemorate God's work of
redemption in Jesus Christ and the new work of creation he accomplished
through Christ's death and resurrection. Taking "our sabbath rest" is a way of
expressing honor to God for all that he has done for us. Such "rest" however
does not exempt us from our love for our neighbor. 

If we truly love the Lord above all else, then the love of God will overflow
to love of neighbor as well. Do we honor the Lord in the way we celebrate
Sunday, the Lord's Day and in the way we treat our neighbor? 

Saint Sebastian, you spoke up for your faith in a time when speaking up meant
death. Now we are afraid to speak because we are afraid people won't like us
or take us seriously. Give us the courage to speak up respectfully to express
our faith. Amen 

(Sebastian died a martyr in Rome, probably in the third century, and was
buried in the Appian Way. He was venerated at least as far back as the time of
Saint Ambrose and probably had some connection to Milan. 

This is all we know of Saint Sebastian. Two hundred years after his death a
legend sprang up about his life. According to this legend, Sebastian, a
Christian, decided to go into the military during a time of persecution. This
decision was not to save his own life, but in order to put himself in a
position to comfort the martyrs. As a member of the military, the ones who
captured and guarded the persecuted Christians, he was in ideal place to stay
with them, encourage them, and even alleviate their sufferings without anyone
being suspicious or keeping him out. He showed such aptitude, however, in the
military life, that the emperor Diocletian made him a captain without ever
guessing Sebastian was a Christian. As more and more Christians died, it was
inevitable that Sebastian would be found out.

Diocletian was furious at what he saw as a betrayal after all he had done for
Sebastian. He ordered Sebastian to be shot by archers and that is why we see
art and statues depicting Sebastian's body full of arrows.)
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