Sts. Marcellinus and Peter

On June 2, the Catholic Church remembers two fourth-century martyrs, Saints Marcellinus and Peter, who were highly venerated after the discovery of their tomb and the conversion of their executioner.

Although the biographical details of the two martyrs are largely unknown, it is known that they lived and died during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. In 302, the ruler changed his tolerant stance and pursued a policy intended to eliminate the Church from the empire.

Diocletian and his subordinate ordered the burning of Catholic churches and their sacred texts, as well as the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons. The goal was to force Christians to submit to the Roman pagan religion, including the worship of the emperor himself as divine.

It was at the mid-point of this persecution, around 303, that a Roman exorcist by the name of Peter was imprisoned for his faith. While in prison, tradition holds that Peter freed Paulina, the daughter of the prison-keeper Artemius, from demonic influence by his prayers.

This demonstration of Christ's power over demons is said to have brought about the conversion of Paulina, Artemius, his wife, and the entire household, all of whom were baptized by the Roman priest Marcellinus.

After this, both Marcellinus and Peter were called before a judge who was determined to enforce the emperor's decree against the Church. When Marcellinus testified courageously to his faith in Christ, he was beaten, stripped of his clothes, and deprived of food in a dark cell filled with broken glass shards.

Peter, too, was returned to his confinement. But neither man would deny Christ, and both preferred death over submission to the cult of pagan worship.

It was arranged for the two men to be executed secretly, in order to prevent the faithful from gathering in prayer and veneration at the place of their burial. Their executioner forced them to clear away a tangle of thorns and briars, which the two men did cheerfully, accepting their death with joy.

Both men were beheaded in the forest and buried in the clearing they had made. The location of the saints' bodies remained unknown for some time, until a devout woman named Lucilla received a revelation informing her where the priest and exorcist lay.

With the assistance of another woman, Firmina, Lucilla recovered the two saints' bodies and had them re-interred in the Roman Catacombs. Sts. Marcellinus and Peter are among the saints named in the Western Church's most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.

Pope St. Damasus I, who was himself a great devotee of the Church's saints during his life, composed an epitaph to mark the tombs of the two martyrs. The source of his knowledge, he said, was the executioner himself, who had subsequently repented and joined the Catholic Church.


2 Peter 3:12-15, 17-18

12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!
13 But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.


Mark 12:13-17

13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Hero'di-ans, to entrap him in his talk.
14 And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
15 Should we pay them, or should we not?" But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it."
16 And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's."
17 Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at him.


Psalms 90:2-4, 10, 14, 16

2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.
3 Thou turnest man back to the dust, and sayest, "Turn back, O children of men!"
4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
10 The years of our life are threescore and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with thy steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
16 Let thy work be manifest to thy servants, and thy glorious power to their children.


Lord, help me You first in my life

Tuesday 2nd June 2020
9th Week in Ordinary Time
Ss Marcellinus & Peter, martyrs
2 Pt. 3:11-15A, 17-18;  Ps. 90(89):2, 3-4, 10, 14,16;
Mk. 12:13-17(Ps Wk I)

The Pharisees and Herodians came to “catch” Jesus, to get him to deny either one’s obedience to God or to the emperor. Instead, Jesus catches them by surprise. It is not a choice of choosing one or the other but about choosing one over the other.

Obedience to God and the emperor is not the same but is inter-connected. A Jew may pay taxes to the emperor because it is what the Roman law, that is, the “world” expects from him. It should not, however, turn him away from giving total allegiance to God because it is what God expects from him. The question is: to whom do we give our greater obedience — to God or man? 

During the time of the early Church, a question arose. “Will Jesus return as he promised?” “Do we stop waiting for him and go on with our lives?” In other words, “Do we still obey the laws of someone who did not keep his promise?” Here too, is the issue of choosing between the “things of God” and the “things of the world”.

The writer of the second letter of Peter warns believers not to be “carried away by the errors of unprincipled people” who think that this world is all and everything.

There are the “things of God” and the “things of the world”. They are not the same but are inter-connected. We cannot separate or compartmentalise them. But let us be clear. How we live in this world is connected to our relationship with God, and how we are judged by Him at the end of time.

Lord, help me You first in my life.