Many people desire fame. Generals and politicians want to be known for their might and power. Performers want to be known for their talent, and celebrities simply want to be known. Today’s saint, Pope St. Sixtus, was remembered by one who knew him as “a good and peaceable priest.” The Church remembers him as both pope and martyr, one who not only laid down his life for Christ, but who died trying to protect the members of his community.
He was a good shepherd.
When Sixtus became pope, Valerian was the emperor of Rome. Valerian forbade Christians to meet together, so they began meeting in secret. One day, Roman soldiers invaded one of the burial tunnels, or catacombs, where Sixtus and his fellow believers were meeting. Sixtus knew that if he and his deacons escaped, the soldiers would kill the worshippers left behind. So Sixtus and the four deacons came forward and offered their lives to the soldiers, who beheaded them in the sight of all the other Christians.
Pope Sixtus not only heard, but also lived the words of Jesus, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He was a good and peaceable priest. He was a good shepherd.