St. Cyril of Jerusalem
The crises that the Church faces today may seem minor when compared with the threat posed by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ and almost overcame Christinity in the fourth century. Cyril was to be caught up in the controversy, accused (later) of Arianism by St. Jerome (September 30), and ultimately vindicated both by the men of his own time and by being declared a Doctor of the Church in 1822.
Raised in Jerusalem, well-educated, especially in the Scriptures, he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem and given the task of catechizing during Lent those preparing for Baptism and during the Easter season the newly baptized. His Catecheses remain valuable as examples of the ritual and theology of the Church in the mid-fourth century.
There are conflicting reports about the circumstances of his becoming bishop of Jerusalem. It is certain that he was validly consecrated by bishops of the province. Since one of them was an Arian, Acacius, it may have been expected that his "cooperation" would follow. Conflict soon rose between Cyril and Acacius, bishop of the rival nearby see of Caesarea. Cyril was summoned to a council, accused of insubordination and of selling Church property to relieve the poor. Probably, however, a theological difference was also involved. He was condemned, driven from Jerusalem, and later vindicated, not without some association and help of Semi-Arians. Half his episcopate was spent in exile (his first experience was repeated twice). He finally returned to find Jerusalem torn with heresy, schism and strife, and wracked with crime. Even St. Gregory of Nyssa, sent to help, left in despair.
They both went to the (second ecumenical) Council of Constantinople, where the amended form of the Nicene Creed was promulgated in 381. Cyril accepted the word consubstantial (that is, of Christ and the Father). Some said it was an act of repentance, but the bishops of the Council praised him as a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians. Though not friendly with the greatest defender of orthodoxy against the Arians, Cyril may be counted among those whom Athanasius called "brothers, who mean what we mean, and differ only about the word [consubstantial]."
Those who imagine that the lives of saints are simple and placid, untouched by the vulgar breath of controversy, are rudely shocked by history. Yet it should be no surprise that saints, indeed all Christians, will experience the same difficulties as their Master. The definition of truth is an endless, complex pursuit, and good men and women have suffered the pain of both controversy and error. Intellectual, emotional and political roadblocks may slow up people like Cyril for a time. But their lives taken as a whole are monuments to honesty and courage.
"It is not only among us, who are marked with the name of Christ, that the dignity of faith is great; all the business of the world, even of those outside the Church, is accomplished by faith. By faith, marriage laws join in union persons who were strangers to one another. By faith, agriculture is sustained; for a man does not endure the toil involved unless he believes he will reap a harvest. By faith, seafaring men, entrusting themselves to a tiny wooden craft, exchange the solid element of the land for the unstable motion of the waves. Not only among us does this hold true but also, as I have said, among those outside the fold. For though they do not accept the Scriptures but advance certain doctrines of their own, yet even these they receive on faith" (Catechesis V, Cyril).
Saint of the Day Presence
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....
Everything has the potential to draw forth from me a fuller love and life.
Yet my desires are often fixed, caught, on illusions of fulfillment.
I ask that God, through my freedom may orchestrate
my desires in a vibrant loving melody rich in harmony.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God.
I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them.
Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment.
I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Is 49:8-15
Thus says the LORD:
Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18
R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
Verse Before the Gospel Jn 11:25a, 26
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
Gospel Jn 5:17-30
Jesus answered the Jews:
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Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels. May I respond to your call today.Teach me to recognise your hand at work in my daily living.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
For this reason, they tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father. (John 5:18)
Smart phones and tablets have become increasingly popular for everything from doing online research or taking photographs to holding a video conference with someone on the other side of the world. But if you went back two hundred years and showed people a smart phone, how do you think they would react? If nothing else, you'd cause quite a sensation!
This may be a good analogy for what happens in today's Gospel reading. What began as a justification for a healing on the Sabbath turned into a profound revelation of Jesus' unity with the Father. Talk about explosive! The Jews wanted Jesus to explain why he thought he could ignore their laws, and Jesus answered by saying that he was one with God the Father.
None of us is shocked by the statement that Jesus is God's Son or that this eternal, immortal Son of God actually died. After all, we have two thousand years of history, theology, and experience behind us. We are comfortable saying that we are children of God; that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three Persons in one God; and that we have been brought to share in the life of this Trinity. While these ideas were absolutely revolutionary to the Jews of Jesus' day, we run the risk of taking them for granted.
Brothers and sisters, the gospel is explosive! Take just one of its truths, and spend some time pondering it. Think about the fact that in Confession every sin is wiped away—forever! It's not just a nice sentiment. It's not just something we say to our children to help them get to the sacrament. It's the gospel truth. Nothing you have done is too big for God to forgive and forget. He will never hold it against you. He will never look at you as "that person who did that horrible thing." He will only continue to love you, embrace you, and offer you more and more of his transforming grace.
Let this explosive truth, or maybe another one, roll around in your mind today. Let it lift you up and fill you with joy.
"Holy Spirit, your truth is living and active. Bring that truth to life in me today!"
Of The One