Summary of Today’s Meditation.
We will meditate to-day upon St. Mark; and we shall admire in him: 1st, the amiable character of his virtue; 2d, his apostolic zeal. We will then make the resolution: 1st, to endeavor, like St. Mark, to make our virtue amiable to all, in everything; 2d, to try and bring back to God the souls which have wandered away from Him and to make those better which are already good. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of St. Paul: “I also in all things please all men, not seeking that which is profitable to myself, but to many: that they may be saved” (I. Cor. x. 33).
Meditation for the Morning.
Let us adore the goodness of God in raising up St. Mark not only to be one of the most beautiful patterns in His Church of Christian piety and of apostolic zeal, but also for having given to us, through him, one of the four gospels. Let us thank Him for this double benefit, and let us bless His Providence towards His Holy Church.
The Virtue of St. Mark was Amiable in its Character.
We see, in fact, that he gained the hearts of all who were brought into contact with him. St. Peter loved him as his son and even gave him the name of son (I. Pet. v. 13). He instructed him himself, took him as his companion on his travels, brought him with him to Rome, and at the request of the Christians the pious disciple wrote his gospel as a compendium of the preachings of his master. St. Peter approved of the gospel and gave it to the churches to be read as a faithful exposition of the life of Jesus Christ. St. Paul loved St. Mark no less than did St. Peter; he styled him a very useful co-operator in the work of the holy ministry, and begged Timothy to bring him with him as being a friend and a precious help (II. Tim. iv. 11). The people were touched, as well as the apostles, by the amiability which characterized the virtue of St. Mark; and this innocent prestige was the secret of his great success in his preaching of the gospel. The fact is that at all times and in all places virtue which is amiable in its features honors religion, gains hearts towards it, makes it to be loved and respected. We easily believe that the religion which forms such perfect virtue, so gracious in all its relations, so amiable in all its procedures, comes to us from heaven, and from a God who is all love and goodness. St. Mark, by conforming his conduct to it, only realized, it is true, in his person, the idea of true virtue such as St. Paul exhibits it to the faithful of Philippi, when he presents it to them as an admirable composition of all there is most pure, of all that is just, of all that is holy, of all that is amiable (Philipp. iv. 8). Is this the characteristic of our virtue? Do we never allow any one to suffer anything from us, and are we amiable towards all, above all towards those whom we dislike?
St. Mark had a Lively Apostolic Zeal.
St. Mark, a Jew by origin, was no sooner converted after the resurrection of the Saviour, than he no longer breathed anything but zeal and devotedness to make Jesus Christ known and loved. After having taken part in the labors and sufferings of St. Peter and St. Paul, he left Rome, at St. Peter’s order, to go and evangelize Egypt and the neighboring provinces, which was one of the countries the most attached to idolatry, the most infected by vice and superstition. Having arrived in the fallow land where the Gospel had not been preached, he sets to work, goes from town to town, from province to province, touches hearts, inflames them with the desire of perfection, with the love of eternal riches. He forms disciples and leaves them everywhere where he has been to keep up the good he has begun, whilst he himself goes to evangelize other nations. In a little time the whole country is Christianized. At Alexandria the number of the faithful becomes so great that the holy apostle, Eusebius informs us, is obliged to establish different churches or parishes there, with priests to serve them, and in these parishes the Christians lived like religious, having only one heart and one soul, and practising the most sublime virtues. In the remainder of Egypt were formed those fervent Christian bodies which later on peopled the deserts of the Thebais, and astonished the world by their eminent virtues. So much success irritated the rage of the pagans, some of whom attempted the life of the apostle, and crowned his labors by martyrdom. Such was the zeal of St. Mark; and ours, what is it? Are we sensitive in respect to the evils suffered by religion and to the loss of souls? Do we do what we can to hinder God from being offended and to incline hearts to love Him ?
Resolutions: 1st, to endeavor, like St. Mark, to make our virtue amiable to all, in everything ; 2d, to try and bring back to God the souls which have wandered away from Him and to make those better which are already good.
“I also in all things please all men, not seeking that which is profitable to myself, but to many: that they may be saved” (I. Cor. x. 33).