There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the "Apostle of the Gentiles" (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D.. In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their "hatred of the human race." Peter and Paul were probably among the victims. Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.
There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the "Apostle of the Gentiles" (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D..
In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their "hatred of the human race." Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.
Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.
Pope Clement I, third successor of St. Peter, writes: "It was through envy and jealousy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death.... First of all, Peter, who because of unreasonable jealousy suffered not merely once or twice but many times, and, having thus given his witness, went to the place of glory that he deserved. It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance. He was put in chains seven times, sent into exile, and stoned; a herald both in the east and the west, he achieved a noble fame by his faith...."
"Around these men with their holy lives there are gathered a great throng of the elect, who, though victims of jealousy, gave us the finest example of endurance in the midst of many indignities and tortures. Through jealousy women were tormented, like Dirce or the daughters of Danaus, suffering terrible and unholy acts of violence. But they courageously finished the course of faith and despite their bodily weakness won a noble prize."
"Be still and know that I am God."
I will ask God's help,
to be free from my own preoccupations,
to be open to God in this time of prayer,
to come to know, love and serve God more.
I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Gn 19:15-29
As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "On your way!
Responsorial Psalm PS 26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12
R. (3a) O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Alleluia Ps 130:5
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 8:23-27
As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Conversation requires talking and listening. As I talk to Jesus may I also learn to be still and listen. I picture the gentleness in His eyes and the smile full of love as he gazes on me. I can be totally honest with Jesus as I tell Him of my worries and my cares. I will open up my heart to Him as I tell Him of my fears and my doubts. I will ask Him to help me to place myself fully in His care, to abandon myself to Him, knowing that He always wants what is best for me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Meditation: Genesis 19:15-29
The First Martyrs of Holy Roman Church
Early the next morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood in the Lord's presence. (Genesis 19:27)
Abraham lived in tumultuous times. God had told him that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah had grown so great that the only answer was to overthrow them and start all over again. Even though Abraham tried to bargain with the Lord on behalf of these cities, God was resolute. After sending angels to rescue Lot and his family, God went through with his plan and burned the cities to the ground.
When Abraham woke up the morning after the destruction, he traveled, as if by instinct, to the place where he and God had last spoken. It's as if he didn't know what else to do. He wanted to find refuge in the place where he had last connected with the Lord, a place where he could make sense out of what had just happened.
What is your place of refuge? Where do you turn when you are trying to sort through the wreckage of a difficult situation? Some find comfort in family. Some prefer to be alone. Others, sadly, turn to alcohol or drugs for solace.
Turn to the Lord! His arms are open wide, waiting to receive you. He has the wisdom, the consolation, and the guidance you need. He also has the authority and power to help you put things back together and choose the next steps along your path. This is what Abraham did, and he grew stronger because of it.
Oftentimes our first response to difficulties is to imagine the worst, to fret, or to try to run away. These are all natural reactions, but they're usually not the best reactions! The best thing to do is to make a conscious effort to stop, breathe, and seek the Lord in the quiet of your heart. Read a favorite Scripture verse if it helps. Try to get to daily Mass if you can. Make it a point to wake up a little earlier so that you can spend some extra time with the Lord. If you take steps to find God's presence, you'll also find the way through whatever challenges are before you.
"Thank you, Lord, for being my refuge. I know that I can come to you anytime, anywhere, about anything, and be filled with your life."
Psalm 26:2-3, 9-12