Thought for the Day – 1 August – Thursday of the Seventeenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Feast of St Peter in Chains
Homily of St Augustine
Peter alone among the Apostles was accounted worthy to hear – A – men I say to thee, that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church. Worthy indeed was he, to be the foundation-stone, the supporting pillar, the key to the kingdom, in building up the peoples into the house of God. Concerning this, the divine word says – And they laid, it says, their sick, that when Peter passed by, his shadow at the least might fall on them. If at that time the shadow of his body could give aid, how much more now can the fullness of his power? If a mere breath of air from him, as he passed by, was of such benefit to suppliants, how much more his favour now that he remains steadfast? With good reason is the iron of those Penal chains held throughout all the churches of Christ to be more precious than gold.
If the shadow of him who visited was so potent to cure, how much more the chains of him who binds? If even the mere appearance of an empty image could have the force of healing in it, how much more healthfulness should the chains, with which he suffered, whose iron weight had pressed upon his sacred members, deserve to draw forth from his body? If he was so mighty to help his suppliants before his martyrdom, how much more must he avail after his triumph?
Happy those bonds, which by touching the Apostle rendered him a Martyr and so from manacles and fetters themselves were changed into a crown! Happy chains, which brought their prisoner even unto the cross of Christ, not so much for condemnation as for consecration!
Jesus said to His disciples – Who do men say that the Son of Man is? Peter answered and said – Thou art Christ, the son of the living God. And I say to thee – that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church!
The Chains of Saint Peter
How blessed is the force of prayer!
Eager for Peter’s fate,
Thy soldiers, Herod, bound him fast,
And watch’d before the gate.
But Jesus has His soldiers, too,
They also vigils keep,
They watch to prayer, while Peter rests
In faith composed in sleep.
And Jesus other soldiers has,
Responsive to the call
Of prayer His holy angels come,
Sent by the Lord of all.
Prayer brought an angel down from heaven,
Sentries and bars are vain,
With heavenly light the prison shines,
Unlocked is Peter’s chain.