Thought of the day
Monday, June 29, 2015

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, apostles - Solemnity
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“When you are older … another will … carry you off against your will” (Jn 21:18)

Saint Leo the Great (?-c.461), Pope and Doctor of the Church 
Sermon 82/69 for the anniversary of the Apostles Peter and Paul
“When you are older … another will … carry you off against your will” (Jn 21:18)

You were not afraid to come to this city of Rome, O holy apostle Peter! … You were not afraid of Rome, the mistress of the world, you who in the house of Caiaphas took fright when faced with the high priest’s servant girl. So was the power of the emperors Claudius and Nero less than Pilate’s judgment or the fury of the Jewish leaders? It is because the power of love triumphed in you over the reasons to fear. You did not think you had to fear those whom you had been sent to love. You had already received this intrepid charity when the love you professed for the Lord was strengthened by his threefold question (Jn 21:15f.)… And so that your trust might grow, there were the signs of so many miracles, the gift of so many charisms, the experience of so many marvelous works… Thus, without doubting in the fruitfulness of the task and without remaining ignorant of the time you still had to live, you brought the trophy of Christ’s cross to Rome, where through divine predestination, both the honor of authority and the glory of martyrdom awaited you.

Saint Paul came to this same city. With you, he was an apostle, a chosen instrument (Acts 9:19) and teacher of the nations (1 Tim 2:7). He came to be with you in this time when already all innocence, all freedom, all modesty were oppressed under Nero’s power, who in his madness was the first to decree a general and terrible persecution against the christian name, as if God’s grace could have been stopped by massacring saints… But “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.” (Ps 116[117]:15) No cruelty could destroy the religion founded through the mystery of Christ’s cross. The Church is not reduced but rather enlarged through persecutions; the field of the Lord is constantly clothed with a greater harvest when the seeds that fall alone are born again as many (Jn 12:24). What a lineage those two divinely sown plants produced as they developed! Thousands of martyr saints, imitating the two apostles’ triumph, ... crowned this city with a diadem adorned with countless jewels.