St. Pope John I

Friends in Christ, today is the feast of Pope John I, who lived in the 6th century.
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If we look at history, we see that it is hard to become a saint without an antagonist. The experience of the cross is part of Christian life, and often this cross comes in the form of a person who is against us. In the case of Pope John, this person was the barbarian king, Theodoric.
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The Goths had invaded and conquered Italy, and Theodoric was the ruler; Theodoric was an Arian. That means he belonged to a religion that in outward appearances was Catholic, but which believed that Jesus was not Divine, that the Son of God is not Eternal. Arians. This heresy had spread to many of the barbarian tribes; for this reason, the Emperor was taking measures to resist this heresy, which provoked the anger of Theodoric.
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The day came when Theodoric insisted that the Pope go to Constantinople on a mission to the Emperor. He wanted the Emperor to stop antagonizing and excluding Arians from public office; reluctantly Pope John went. He was the first Pope to leave Italy, and so when he reached the great city of Constantinople, he was overwhelmed by the reception of the people. For the last 12 miles to the city, the clergy led him in a procession carrying candles and crosses; he was enthroned, and celebrated Mass at the great Church of Hagia Sofia.
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In meeting the Emperor, Pope John asked him to moderate his measures against the Arians in order to avoid reprisals against Catholics in Italy.
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But Theodoric’s suspicions were growing about the friendship between the Pope and the Emperor, and he was convinced that nothing was done on his behalf; no sooner did the mission reach Theodoric’s capital in Ravenna, than was Pope John cast into prison, where he died a few days later from poor treatment.
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It’s often those who make our life difficult or who are against us – the Theodorics in our life – who make it possible for us to practice virtue, to be long-suffering, patient, praying for our enemies, or making acts of courage. Many times our boss or family member or even our spouse are never satisfied with anything we do, even though we try to accommodate their desires.
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Pope John is an example for us, to do what we think the Lord wants, and then be at peace.

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