11 Dec – Memorial for St. Damasus I, pope
Damasus (306-384) was raised in a pious family. His father was a priest in Rome, and Damasus served for a time as deacon in his father’s church, St. Laurence. In time, Damasus also became a priest and served as assistant to Pope Liberius.
Damasus was chosen as the 37th pope in 366 in a disputed election in which a minority chose anti-pope Ursinus. The two reigned simultaneously in Rome which eventually led to violence between their supporters and Damasus’ false accusation of a crime.
His pontificate suffered from the rise of Arianism, and from several schisms including break-away groups in Antioch, Constantinope, Sardinia, and Rome. However, it was during Damasus’ reign that Christianity was declared the religion of the Roman state. He enforced the 370 edict of Emperor Valentinian controlling gifts to prelates, and opposed Arianism and Apollinarianism. He supported the 374 Council of Rome which decreed the valid books of the Bible, and the Grand Council of Constantinople in 381 which condemned Arianism.
He was the Patron of his secretary, St. Jerome, and commissioned him to make the translation of scripture now known as the Vulgate. Damasus restored catacombs, shrines, and the tombs of martyrs, and wrote poetry and metrical inscriptions about and dedicated to martyrs. They state that he would like to be buried in the catacombs with the early martyrs, but that the presence of one of his lowly status would profane such an august place. Ten of his letters, personal and pontifical, have survived.
– Source: Patron Saint Index
He who walking on the sea could calm the bitter waves, who gives life to the dying seeds of the earth; he who was able to loose the mortal chains of death, and after three days’ darkness could bring again to the upper world the brother for his sister Martha: he, I believe, will make Damasus rise again from the dust.
– epitaph Damasus wrote for himself
“Console my people, console them”
Says your God.
“Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.”
A voice cries, “Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice commands: “Cry!”
and I answered, “What shall I cry?”
– “All flesh is grass and its beauty like the wild flower’s.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on them.
(The grass is without doubt the people.)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God remains for ever.”
Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God.”
Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”
Today’s gospel reading is about Jesus telling his disciples that he is a shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep. I remember a time when I got lost. My father had brought me to Thomson Plaza where we frequently visited. I saw in the toys section a television set screening the opening of Knight Rider, and I wanted to watch it. My father told me to stay there while he went grocery shopping, and he would come back and find me.
I sat down with the other kids to watch, but when I realized that the television kept showing only the opening of the series, I got bored and decided to go in search of my father. That was when I first realized just how big Thomson Plaza was, and I got lost. I didn’t know where my father was, and I didn’t know where I was. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by big people going about their business. So I did the only thing I knew how to do… I wailed loudly.
Soon after, a nice lady came to console me, and she brought me to the information desk where they paged for my father on the public address system. My father soon came to find me and when I saw him, I ran to him and hugged him, so glad to be by his side again. And all along, he was laughing.
I met Jesus that day, in the form of that nice lady who consoled me. She made it possible for me to be reconciled with my father again. And indeed that is what Jesus does for us – he goes in search of those who are lost, and he reconciles us with our heavenly Father.
Imagine what would have happened if I did not start crying loudly. Imagine what would have happened if I had continued to pretend that I could find my father on my own. Imagine what would have happened if I stubbornly continue to search without realizing that I was, in fact, lost. I would have just gotten more and more lost!
So it is with us on our spiritual journey. There are people who are lost and do not know it. They believe that they can find their way to God on their own and stubbornly refuse to give up. What they don’t realize is that Jesus is waiting patiently for them to realize that they are lost, and to start crying out for help. Then Jesus will swoop in, console us, dry our tears, and bring us back to our heavenly Father. For without this realization that we cannot do it on our own, we will never be ready and humble enough to ask for help… or simply to wail helplessly.
Dear Lord, help us to realize and admit that we do get lost at times, and help us not to stubbornly try to find our way only to get more and more lost. Help us to realize that we are helpless without you, and lead us back to our heavenly Father. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who console us when we are lost and cannot find our way home.
Wed, 12 Dec – Isaiah 40:25-31; Matthew 11:28-30; Memorial for Our Lady of Guadalupe
Thu, 13 Dec – Isaiah 41:13-20; Matthew 11:11-15; Memorial for St. Lucy, virgin, martyr
Fri, 14 Dec – Isaiah 48:17-19; Matthew 11:16-19; Memorial for St. John of the Cross, presbyter, doctor
Sat, 15 Dec – Sirach 48:17-19; Matthew 17:10-13
Sun, 16 Dec – Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11; Third Sunday of Advent
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