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In the Footnotes of Saints: Weekly Message for 01-18-2022
Some of you reading this might think to yourself, “What a strange title. It must have been a typo.” I asked the Holy Spirit the same question as this reflection was brewing in my prayer. My mind thought that some folks reading this might feel at times like the people around them live amazing lives and their own life seems more like a footnote.
A footnote is found at the bottom of the page and unless you’re a geek like me, who gets lost in the why behind the what, you pass over them quickly to get on with the text. A footnote is defined as an ancillary piece of information. I felt the gears turning. The word ancillary means providing necessary support to the primary actions of another. Click. That’s it. That’s what the Holy Spirit was impressing on my heart.
What we often view as unnecessary is of great importance in the plan of God. My mind pondered two examples. The first is Saint Sebastian whose feast day we celebrate in the Roman calendar of feasts on January 20. Saint Sebastian is often depicted as a young man tied to a tree impaled by multiple arrows. He is a patron saint of athletes. But did you know he is also a patron of those stricken by plagues?
So how are footnotes and St Sebastian related? According to ancient hagiography, when St Sebastian was left bound to the tree full of arrows to die, St Irene of Rome went to retrieve his body for burial and found him alive. She took him to her home and nursed him back to health. When the saint was sentenced to death again, tradition tells us a pious lady, named Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, privately removed the body and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery where the Basilica of Saint Sebastian stands today. St Irene and Lucina are ancillary characters in the story of St Sebastian, footnotes. But without them, the history of the martyrdom of St Sebastian would not be the same.
The second example comes from the fifth chapter in the Gospel of Luke we heard this past week in the healing of the paralytic. The text tells us how a group of friends bring a paralyzed man to Jesus for healing. Unable to penetrate the crowd, they lower him down through the roof. The text tells us when Jesus saw their faith, he healed the man. In the footnotes of the Navarre commentary, it shares that faith and friendship combine in obtaining a miraculous cure and St Ambrose is quoted as saying, “How great is the Lord who on the merits of some, pardons others and while praising the former absolves the latter.”
Let us never doubt the power of our actions even when they seem so trivial to us or when the world deems them only worthy of a footnote. The Church is built on the footnotes of many unsung heroes and heroines.
Yours in the Heart of Jesus,