Sts. John and Paul, Martyrs

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STS. JOHN AND PAUL, Martyrs.

THESE two Saints were both officers in the army under Julian the Apostate, and received the crown of martyrdom, probably in 362. They glorified God by a double victory; they despised the honors of the world, and triumphed over its threats and torments. They saw many wicked men prosper in their impiety, but were not dazzled by their example. They considered that worldly prosperity which attends impunity in sin is the most dreadful of all judgments; and how false and short-lived was this glittering prosperity of Julian, who in a moment fell into the pit which he himself had dug! But the martyrs, by the momentary labor of their conflict, purchased an immense weight of never-fading glory; their torments were, by their heroic patience and invincible virtue and fidelity, a spectacle worthy of God, Who looked down upon them from the throne of His glory, and held His arm stretched out to strengthen them, and to put on their heads immortal crowns in the happy moment of their victory.




Reflection.—The Saints always accounted that they had done nothing for Christ so long as they had not resisted to blood, and by pouring forth the last drop completed their sacrifice. Every action of our lives ought to spring from this fervent motive, and we should consecrate ourselves to the divine service with our whole strength; we must always bear in mind that we owe to God all that we are, and, after all we can do, are unprofitable servants, and do only what we are bound to do.



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Touching this leaven the Apostle warneth us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. For even as a little leaven doth infect the whole lump wherein it is put, and the savour thereof doth spread all abroad therein, so doth hypocrisy, when once it hath tainted the soul, drive out from it all sincerity and truth. The meaning, therefore, of this passage is this: Beware, lest ye be as the hypocrites, for the time cometh when all men shall see whether ye are men of good will or whether ye are as these hypocrites.

Now consider what followeth: For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known; therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light. These words are true, not only as concerning the world which is to come, wherein the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, but even as concerning this present world. For whatsoever was spoken in darkness by the Apostles (that is, when they were persecuted), or whatsoever was done by them in the gloom of dungeons, is now openly proclaimed in the reading of their Acts throughout the whole world wherever the Church is held in honour. Be not afraid of them that kill the body, for they that persecute the righteous, when they have killed the body, after that, have no more that they can do. Truly, it is a childish folly which maketh such men to cast the dead limbs of the Martyrs to birds and beasts, since nothing they can do can stay Almighty God whereby he will surely quicken the same limbs and raise them up again.

Of persecutors there are two kinds: first, of such as do openly rage in cruelty against us; and, secondly, of such as do seek, by cunning wiliness and lying, to beguile us. Against both these the Saviour willeth to guard and strengthen us, in one place warning us to be not afraid of them that kill the body, and, in another place, to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees: since, when we are dead, neither the cruelty of the one class, nor the falsehood of the other, will be able any more to touch us. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? If God, saith the Lord, if God cannot forget the least of the works of his hands that hath life, the little birds that fly hither and thither in the air, if he cannot forget them, wherefore should ye, who are made in the image and likeness of your Maker, wherefore should ye be afraid of them that kill the body? He that is the careful Lord of the beasts, which think not, how much more shall he be careful of man which hath a reasonable soul?

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