Thursday, October 7

Lessons from Saints - Sergius and Bacchus

Today is the feast of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, the first and most prominent of the 'paired' saints.

Sergius (aka Serge) and Bacchus were highly-placed roman soldiers and gay lovers (ἐραστἐς) at the turn of the 4th century AD.  Favoured of Emperor Maximianus, they rose to some stature until their love of Christ was discovered.  Bacchus was tortured to death and Sergius was tortured and then beheaded.  To the end, they loved both our Lord and each other.  The story of their martyrdom, known as the Passion of Sergius and Bacchus, is considered one of the first well documented cases of martyrdom and they are some of the very earliest saints to be venerated in the manner we know now.

Do note, the Romans had no great issue with their homosexuality.  Neither did the people of the early church.  Some of the later hagiographic stories refer to them as 'brothers' or don't mention their relationship at all, but the early sources are rather plain about their relationship as being far more than 'brotherly' in nature.

I believe a more salient and enduring lesson can be derived from these early martyrs, however.

Given the recent epidemic of hatred, intolerance and fundamentally unchristian behaviour by so many (especially by those who call themselves follower of Christ), I believe it would be instructive to recall the words echoed by Saint Sergius in the hour of his death.

"For you wish all to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. When you lay death upon them (the pagans who were to kill Sergius), accept their repentance, Lord, and do not remember the sin of ignorance which they have perpetrated against us for your sake. Enlighten the eyes of their minds and lead them to the knowledge of you."

Merciful father,
I pray that those who have been victims of hatred and intolerance find your compassion and love in both this life and the next, no matter how they may cross that bridge.

I pray that those who have inflicted these pains be enlightened to the suffering they have caused, may their hard hearts softened to the plights of those about them and know the forgiveness and tenderness of your mercy if they turn from their errors and ask for reconciliation.

I pray, oh Lord, that you would show unto us all  that same mercy and love, and I pray that we may be able to show that same mercy and love to those who do such injustices to both ourselves and to my brothers and sisters, who are all of creation.

I pray that we may have the strength of Serge and Bacchus to stand up for what is right, believe when all are against us and run the good race for your glory oh Lord.


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