1 John 2:18-21; John 1:1-18
1. He Came to His Own: Our God came looking for us. “It is not that we have loved God, but that he has first loved us” (Cf. 1 John 4:10). What is it that so attracts God to us? The Bible uses images of the love of a spouse or a parent to help us understand how deeply God desires to make us his own. He knows that this is where our true happiness lies. Often, he looks for man in mysterious ways, but in Jesus Christ he plainly shows himself and his desire to be with us. Do I appreciate the gift of the Incarnation? Do I understand a bit better each day how humbly and powerfully God looks for my love?
2. Born of God: Our transformation into Christ is a gift. God offers us this gift, and if we are open to it, he deeply changes our relationship with him. Through Christ we have confidence to come before the Father and call him our “Father,” not just our “Creator.” Through Christ we have the power to lay aside sin and put on the holiness of God. Through Christ we have the possibility of leaving a mark on the history of salvation, helping to bring his Good News to the world. This comes from God’s goodness and mercy. Do I appreciate the gift of my divine adoption? Do I try to live as a new man or woman, born of the Spirit?
3. Full of Grace and Truth:Jesus Christ shows us what it is to be truly human. The power and beauty of his life, the unselfishness of his total love, help us see the heights to which we are called. He shows us that it is possible to be holy. He leads the way; we have only to follow in his footsteps. With him we can be confident that the good we have done in our lives will last forever. Do I let myself fall in love with Christ each day? Am I fascinated with him to the level that I discover something new in him each day? Can I say that each day he wins me more and more for his cause?
By Edward Daly
St. Sylvester was the first Pope of Rome to reign entirely under the liberty of the Church, guaranteed by the Edict of Milan in 313. Sylvester - a priest of Rome and the son of one Rufinus, according to the Liber pontificalis - was elected to the See of Peter in 314. During Sylvester’s reign, the city began its transition into its Christian era, with the construction of the great Constantinian basilicas - including the Basilica of St. Peter on the Vatican Hill, which was erected above a temple dedicated to Apollo, to mark the burial place of the first Bishop of Rome. St. Sylvester and Emperor Constantine also collaborated on the the Lateran Basilica and Baptistery, which were built adjacent to the former imperial palace where the Pontiff lived, as well as the (Roman) Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and the Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls. Sylvester’s memory, however, is most closely tied to the church of St. Martin and Sylvester (known as the titulus Equitii, owing to its building site’s having been donated by a priest, Equitius) which still stands in Rome’s Monti neighborhood.
“Confessor of Faith”
It is uncertain, however, what role Sylvester hade - if any - in the negotiations regarding the Donatists at Arles, or over Arianism at the first Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325. According to some, he did not even have the opportunity to intervene. What is certain is that his faith so moved his contemporaries, that they publicly honored him as “confessor”, i.e. one who, though not suffering martyrdom, lived a life completely given to Christ. Pope St. Sylvester also contributed to the development of the liturgy. It was most probably during his reign that the first Roman Martyrology was composed, and his name is associated with the creation of the ancient Roman school of sacred song.
Pope St. Sylvester is patron of the chivalric order called the Militia Aurata, or “of the Golden Spur”, which, as tradition would have it, was founded by Emperor Constantine I in person. After various events throughout the centuries, in 1841, Pope Gregory XVI, in the framework of a vast reform of the equestrian orders, separated the Order of Pope St. Sylvester from the Militia Aurata, assigning to the Order of St. Sylvester particular statutes and decorations. In 1905, Pope St. Pius X made further amendments, which are still in force. The Order includes four classes: Knight/Dame, Knight/Dame Commander, Knight/Dame Commander with Star (Grand Officer), Knight/Dame Grand Cross.