23 Nov – Memorial of Saint Clement I, Pope
Convert, brought to Christianity either by Saint Peter or by Saint Paul. One of the Seventy Apostles. Consecrated as a bishop by Saint Peter the Apostle. Mentioned in Philippians 4:3. Fourth Pope. Apostolic Father. The Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome, Italy, one of the earliest parish churches in the city, is probably built on the site of Clement’s home. Author of the Epistle to the Corinthians. His name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Origen and Saint Jerome identify him as working with Saint Paul the Apostle. Martyred in the persecutions of Trajan.
– The Patron Saint Index
1 Maccabees 6:1-13
King Antiochus was making his way across the upper provinces; he had heard that in Persia there was a city called Elymais, renowned for its riches, its silver and gold, and its very wealthy temple containing golden armour, breastplates and weapons, left there by Alexander son of Philip, the king of Macedon, the first to reign over the Greeks. He therefore went and attempted to take the city and pillage it, but without success, since the citizens learnt of his intention, and offered him a stiff resistance, whereupon he turned about and retreated, disconsolate, in the direction of Babylon. But while he was still in Persia news reached him that the armies that had invaded the land of Judah had been defeated, and that Lysias in particular had advanced in massive strength, only to be forced to turn and flee before the Jews; these had been strengthened by the acquisition of arms, supplies and abundant spoils from the armies they had cut to pieces; they had overthrown the abomination he had erected over the altar in Jerusalem, and had encircled the sanctuary with high walls as in the past, and had fortified Bethzur, one of his cities. When the king heard this news he was amazed and profoundly shaken; he threw himself on his bed and fell into a lethargy from acute disappointment, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. And there he remained for many days, subject to deep and recurrent fits of melancholy, until he understood that he was dying. Then summoning all his Friends, he said to them, ‘Sleep evades my eyes, and my heart is cowed by anxiety. I have been asking myself how I could have come to such a pitch of distress, so great a flood as that which now engulfs me – I who was so generous and well-loved in my heyday. But now I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem when I seized all the vessels of silver and gold there, and ordered the extermination of the inhabitants of Judah for no reason at all. This, I am convinced, is why these misfortunes have overtaken me, and why I am dying of melancholy in a foreign land.’
Some Sadducees – those who say that there is no resurrection – approached him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, that if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers. The first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died Now, at the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife since she had been married to all seven?’
Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive.’
Some scribes then spoke up. ‘Well put, Master’ they said – because they would not dare to ask him any more questions.
And they no longer dared to ask him anything
I hate being wrong. A perfect example was about a week ago when my wife asked me whether I had brought the groceries home after our weekly shopping to which I quickly answered to the affirmative. Realizing a few minutes later that the items were nowhere to be seen and probably still in our car, she went to get them. When she got back with groceries in hand, I was left speechless… pondering the question – “how’d the groceries get there?” Ok – I’ll admit it. I forgot to bring them in *but* it was because I had to shuffle our kids out of the car, while she went off to run other errands. I was overwhelmed and didn’t have enough hands to manage it all. Eventually – I apologized to my wife, to which she quickly forgave me.
When we examine the gospel reading from today – we see how the Sadducees try to trap Jesus with a convoluted question about marriage in the afterlife. Jesus addresses the question in two parts. Firstly, He states that those who are deemed worthy to share in the kingdom of Heaven will enjoy eternal life and so there will no longer be a need for procreation and hence marriage. It’s not as if you live life all over again, but rather you would have new life and would enjoy God’s eternity. Secondly – Jesus refers back to Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush (Exodus 3:6). Jesus points out that God’s words were “I am” rather than “I was” – emphasizing that these important figures (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) in Moses’ ancestral lineage still remain in a relationship with God. They didn’t die and just vanish like what the Sadducees would have believed, rather they are still a part of God’s kingdom. Jesus answers their question with clear insight and authority, leaving the Sadducees speechless. He had struck at the core of their beliefs and so – the Sadducees needed to decide whether they were to amend their ways or find excuses to continue believing and acting the same.
It’s a difficult thing to accept when we’re wrong. Oftentimes, it’s a humbling feeling to be corrected. Yet, it’s through our mistakes that we can learn and grow from. God gave us the gift of free will and so we have the ability to choose right from wrong. Accept or reject. Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author who famously wrote “The Alchemist” is quoted in one of his earlier books “Brida” – “You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”
Rather than be defensive and hostile (or stricken with grief and guilt like King Antiochus) when confronted with a mistake, we should consider it an opportunity for growth. We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn from them that really matters.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)
Thanksgiving – Almighty Father – we give thanks for the grace You’ve given us for the many mistakes and sins that we’ve committed and yet to commit. Help us to continue to heed Your words and show us Your way.
Prayer – Father – we pray for the people in our daily lives who we might offend through our thoughtless words or actions. We pray that you grant them open hearts to forgive so that they too can be more divine like You.