Thought for the Day – 29 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
St Peter, Prince of the Apostles
St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles
“Jesus was walking one day along the shoe of the Sea of Galilee, when He saw two fishermen casting their nets into the water.
He approached them and said: “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mk 1:17).
These two fishermen were brothers named, Simon and Andrew.
The divine Master won their hearts immediately, so that they left their boat and their nets and followed Jesus.
Simon was later called Peter and became the leader of the Apostles.
Peter’s generosity and great love for Jesus are evident in the pages of the Gospel.
When Our Lord foretold the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, many of His disciples were scandalised and left Him.
“Do you also wish to go away?” Jesus asked His Apostles.
St Peter answered Him without delay. “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of everlasting life and we have come to believe and to know, that Thou are the Christ, the Son of God” (Jn 6:69).
On another occasion, Jesus asked His disciples – “Who do men say the Son of Man is?” The Apostles hesitated and began to suggest the names of various Prophets.
But St Peter was inspired to make the reply: “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Then Our Lord appointed him Head of the Church.
“Blessed are thou, Simon Bar-Jona … thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell, shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Mt 16:15-19).
By these words there was instituted the loftiest and most ancient of the dynasties, the Papacy.
The successor of St Peter will rule the Church to the end of time and no power, neither persecution nor heresy, neither human tyranny nor false civilisation, will ever succeed in destroying this citadel of truth and goodness!”
St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles
“St Paul was by nature, fiery and zealous.
Once he discovered the truth, he was ready to die for it.
Originally he was convinced that Judaism contained the whole truth and, for this reason he hated the Christians, whom he regarded as a sect which had corrupted the sacred Hebrew tradition.
The deacon Stephen was the first victim of his persecuting zeal.
As he was being stoned and beaten to death this saintly young man prayed for his persecutors.
It may be that in this moment his eyes, shining with faith and love, encountered those of the man who hated him.
Soon afterwards, Saul (this was Paul’s real name), left Jerusalem for Damascus, carrying letters investing him with new powers for the persecution of the infant Church.
On the way, this headstrong but sincere enemy of Christianity was suddenly dazzled by a light from Heaven.
He fell to the ground and heard a mysterious voice saying: “Saul, Saul, why do thou persecute me?”
Terrified he answered: “Who are thou, Lord?”
“I am Jesus,” the voice said, “whom thou are persecuting” (Acts 9:1-15).
From that day, Saul was changed completely.
Under the influence of divine grace, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Before he set out on his missionary journeys, Paul wet apart into the desert of Arabia (Cf Gal 1:17), where, he remained sometime in prayer and recollection.
Then he went to Jerusalem to pay homage to the Prince of the Apostles, St Peter (Gal 1:18).
After this, he began his apostolic travels, in the course of which, he encountered all kinds of hardships and dangers.
The Jews frequently hunted him, in order to put him to death.
He was often cruelly scourged and flung into prison and, several times, he was shipwrecked and had miraculous escapes from death (CF 2 Cor 11:23-27).
He bore everything joyfully however, in order to prove his liove for Jesus Christ.
Charity was always his main incentive. “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14).
Charity, he said himself, “Believes all things, hopes all things,edues all things” (Cf 1 Cor 13:4-13).
His charity was so great, that he could truthfully say: “Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble and I am not inflamed?” (2 Cor 11:29).
St Paul could make this claim because his heart had become identified with the Heart of Jesus.
Therefore, he could say: “It is now no longer I that live but Christ lives in me,” (Gal 2:20) and: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (Phil 1:21) and: “I am hard pressed from both sides, desiring to depart and to be with Christ, a lot by far the better; yet, to stay on in the flesh is necessary, for your sake” (Phil 1:23-24).
Let us meditate on this ardent love of God.
Let us cast aside our coldness and indifference and ask St Paul, to set us on fire with divine charity.” Amen
Antonio Cardinal Bacci