Holy Martyrs Cornelius and Cyprian

The lives of these two shed light on the role of our bishop and especially the Pope in every age. In the third century the church was divided over the Novatian heresy. Novatian was a Roman priest who stood up against the rightfully elected pope Cornelius because he thought Cornelius was too liberal in his treatment of the lapsi. The lapsi were those Christians who, in a moment of weakness, and under threat of persecution, compromised their faith and sacrificed to the pagan gods of Rome.

What’s the old saying? “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” All Pope Francis has to do is open his mouth and the present day Novatianists castigate him for being too liberal. If he talks much more the powers of the world start hating him.

Cyprian condemned Novatian and his fanatics. Both Cyprian and Cornelius stood up for the truth against false teachers within the church. For this they were hated. They also stood up against the world, and the world hated them for it. Spitting, vile, violent, murderous rage.

But both saints ended up being martyred themselves because, while they were hated by their fanatical fellow Christians, they were hated more by the powers of the world–and this is the message of today’s gospel.

I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.

When you stop to read some of the hatred being spewed against the Holy Father  you see that when it comes to the spiritual life nothing changes. The gospel for today says clearly, “The world will hate you as it hates me.” What I find exciting is that this goes with the territory. If you stick up for the truth, If you stick up for beauty, If you stick up for goodness, somebody somewhere will hate you sure enough. Don’t be surprised when the world persecutes and reviles you.

It doesn’t trouble me when this happens.

What troubles me is when this does not happen. Woe to you when all men speak well of you…Something’s wrong there. Yet, in our American Catholic society this is so often exactly what we seek. We buy into the Alpha, American, Achievement culture and seek all the big ‘P’ words: Power, Prestige, Privilege, Pleasure, Prosperity. But this is the way of the world, not the way of the Kingdom.

Set out to challenge those values–set out to undermine the expectations–set out to do something radical–set out to do something beautiful for God and then be prepared for the battle.

Check out my latest book Beheading Hydra- A Radical Plan for Christians in an Atheistic Age. Go here

2021-09-16T13:42:13-04:00September 16th, 2021|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

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