From a sermon to fellow members of his society by Saint Anthony Zaccaria, priest
|The follower of the Apostle Paul|
We are fools for Christ’s sake: our holy guide and most revered patron was speaking about himself and the rest of the apostles, and about the other people who profess the Christian and apostolic way of life. But there is no reason, dear brothers, that we should be surprised or afraid; for the disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. We should love and feel compassion for those who oppose us, rather than abhor and despise them, since they harm themselves and do us good, and adorn us with crowns of everlasting glory while they incite God’s anger against themselves. And even more than this, we should pray for them and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by goodness. We should heap good works like red-hot coals of burning love upon their heads, as our Apostle urges us to do, so that when they become aware of our tolerance and gentleness they may undergo a change of heart and be prompted to turn in love to God.
In his mercy God has chosen us, unworthy as we are, out of the world, to serve him and thus to advance in goodness and to bear the greatest possible fruit of love in patience. We should take encouragement not only from the hope of sharing in the glory of God’s children, but also from the hardships we undergo.
Consider your calling, dearest brothers; if we wish to think carefully about it we shall see readily enough that its basis demands that we who have set out to follow, admittedly from afar, the footsteps of the holy apostles and the other soldiers of Christ, should not be unwilling to share in their sufferings as well. We should keep running steadily in the race we have started, not losing sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection. And so since we have chosen such a great Apostle as our guide and father and claim to follow him, we should try to put his teaching and example into practice in our lives. Such a leader should not be served by faint-hearted troops, nor should such a parent find his sons unworthy of him.