The church (San Marcello) we walked to today dates back to the late fourth century. Walking through the normally busy streets of Rome in the quiet morning helps us to meditate on what it might have been like for Saint Marcellus as he was taken prisoner shortly after he was named pope. In 308, during the Diocletian Persecution, he was arrested and taken to the imperial stables where he was forced to work until he died soon afterwards. Less then 100 years later, a church was built on this very sight in honor of the holy pope who gave his life rather than reject Christ. Today’s church is therefore a great reminder of Christ’s victory over evil.
Encountering the Cross
In today’s readings at Mass we also encounter young men who were willing to give their lives rather than reject their faith in the true God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship a false god. Yet Jesus tells us in the Gospel that “the truth will set you free.” Though bound and thrown into the fire, the young men were saved by God and set free. God’s truth is greater than human wickedness. And this truth is encountered in the cross of Jesus Christ. By taking our sinfulness upon himself and nailing it to the cross, Jesus has destroyed sin and death. The truth is that through our baptism, we too have died with Christ and now live with him. God has set us free from our slavery to sin and death and has given us new life in Christ. Let us truly receive this gift He has given to us in our baptism so that as we approach Holy Week, we may let this new life affect every aspect of our lives.
Written by Chris Seith
Photos by Fr. Justin Huber