"Every grace granted to man has three degrees in order; for by God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and from the Virgin it descends to us." — St. Bernardine of Siena
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Thus, brethren, God has loved you from eternity, and through pure love, he has selected you from among so many men whom he could have created in place of you; but he has left them in their nothingness, and has brought you into existence, and placed you in the world. For the love of you, he has made so many other beautiful creatures, that they might serve you, and that they might remind you of the love which he has borne to you, and of the gratitude which you owe to him." — St. Alphonsus
Liguori, p. 218 AN EXCERPT FROM Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori
click to go there
Bonaventure, Franciscan, theologian, doctor of the Church, was both learned and holy. Because of the spirit that filled him and his writings, he was at first called the Devout Doctor; but in more recent centuries he has been known as the Seraphic Doctor after the "Seraphic Father" Francis because of the truly Franciscan spirit he possessed.
Born in Bagnoregio, a town in central Italy, he was cured of a serious illness as a boy through the prayers of Francis of Assisi. Later, he studied the liberal arts in Paris. Inspired by Francis and the example of the friars, especially of his master in theology, Alexander of Hales, he entered the Franciscan Order, and became in turn a teacher of theology in the university. Chosen as minister general of the Order in 1257, he was God's instrument in bringing it back to a deeper love of the way of St. Francis, both through the life of Francis which he wrote at the behest of the brothers and through other works which defended the Order or explained its ideals and way of life.
The morning of the fifteenth of July, 1274, in the midst of the Second Council of Lyons, Pope Gregory X and the Fathers of the Council were shocked to learn that toward dawn Brother Bonaventure, bishop of Albano, had sickened and died. An unknown chronicler provides his impression of the Franciscan cardinal: "A man of eminent learning and eloquence, and of outstanding holiness, he was known for his kindness, approachableness, gentleness and compassion. Full of virtue, he was beloved of God and man. At his funeral Mass that same day, many were in tears, for the Lord had granted him this grace, that whoever came to know him was forthwith drawn to a deep love of him."
Bonaventure so united holiness and theological knowledge that he rose to the heights of mysticism while yet remaining a very active preacher and teacher, one beloved by all who met him. To know him was to love him; to read him is still for us today to meet a true Franciscan and a gentleman.
Dear Lord help me to be open to you for this time as I put aside the cares of this world. Fill my thoughts with your peace, your love.
I ask for the grace to let go of my own concerns and be open to what God is asking of me, to let myself be guided and formed by my loving Creator.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church Lectionary: 393 Reading 1 Audio-Readings
Is 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8
When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: "Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover." Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD:
"O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was pleasing to you!" And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: "Go, tell Hezekiah: Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD's temple; I will add fifteen years to your life. I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; I will be a shield to this city."
Isaiah then ordered a poultice of figs to be taken and applied to the boil, that he might recover. Then Hezekiah asked, "What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of the LORD?"
Isaiah answered: "This will be the sign for you from the LORD that he will do what he has promised: See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced." So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.
Responsorial Psalm Is 38:10, 11, 12abcd, 16 R. (see 17b) You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die. Once I said, "In the noontime of life I must depart! To the gates of the nether world I shall be consigned for the rest of my years."
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die. I said, "I shall see the LORD no more in the land of the living. No longer shall I behold my fellow men among those who dwell in the world."
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die. My dwelling, like a shepherd's tent, is struck down and borne away from me; You have folded up my life, like a weaver who severs the last thread.
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die. Those live whom the LORD protects; yours is the life of my spirit. You have given me health and life.
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die.
Alleluia Jn 10:27 R. Alleluia, alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath." He said to the them, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ I try to imagine Jesus as he moves through the cornfields, he knows what he is about but also has a real sense of freedom. His way of proceeding shows that he is not a slave to tradition. Wherever Jesus advances the darkness retreats. Clarity of purpose and hope remain in his wake.
▪ The lack of compassion shown by the Pharisees reminds me of the words of Pope Francis:- 'If our heart is closed, if our heart is made of stone, then the stones will end up in our hands and, then, we will be ready to throw them at someone'.
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
I desire mercy, not sacrifice. (Matthew 12:7)
Why did Jesus let his disciples break the Sabbath Law? After all, the third commandment tells us to keep the Sabbath holy. Does Jesus really allow us to cast aside rules when they inconvenience us? Not at all.
The Pharisees in this passage were looking at the disciples' actions through a filter of judgment. Instead of seeing them as individuals, they immediately branded the disciples as lawbreakers and were scandalized when Jesus didn't rebuke them. But this wasn't how Jesus saw things. He chose mercy as his starting point, not judgment. Like David's warriors, they were tired and hungry from serving God. Surely they could be forgiven this minor infraction.
What a wonderful way to approach our relationships, especially in church! When we feel that someone is falling short of our expectations, we can choose mercy over judgment. That doesn't mean glossing over sin, but it does mean trying to treat people with the respect and honor they deserve as children of God. Our fellow parishioners, even our pastor, can fall short of our ideals. However, they all have great dignity in God's eyes. Who are we to cast off someone whom Jesus has seen fit to redeem? Who are we to condemn someone whom Jesus has died for?
There is another benefit to choosing mercy as our starting point instead of judgment: it tends to make us more peaceful! We are not keeping an eye out for offenses but are looking at blessings. We are not focusing on human sin as much as divine grace. And that tends to open our eyes to the good in the world—which, in turn, has the power to encourage and inspire us.
There is so much to rejoice in. There are so many blessings to thank the Lord for. Fixing our hearts on these can bring unity more effectively than looking for trouble. After all, "The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath" (Matthew 12:8). It's his job, not ours, to be concerned with the conscience of each person he has made.
"Jesus, you are forgiving and compassionate. Instead of trying to trap us in our sins, you offer mercy. Thank you for your love!"
The Lord said to Hezekiah that he would not die as was told, the Lord had mercy on him. And at the end of today's Holy Scripture we read "the sun came back". Read it again, because the Son came back, and was proof of God's mercy. Sure it's a play on words but when read aloud, it should reveal the truth. The truth is He does continue to have mercy, albeit, there will always be mercy with love, which is justice. And His justice is what is revealed today, and it is intimately tied with mercy. We prayed "You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die." "Those live whom the LORD protects; yours is the life of my spirit. You have given me health and life." Right now, the world is focused on death. Massive shootings? It'd be nice if it was just that. Massive killings? Please don't think about the few dozens killed lately. No, then what? How can I say focused on death then? The world is focused on death, and money leads it. It is not just in our nation, not just a certain party that is running for government, it is not just one person, it is a plague across the world, and the massive killings are in the millions per year, of unborn children, denied human rights. What's worse? The culprit...sin. Sin leads to death. Our focus is on what we can't do, instead of what we can do. It's like G.K. Chesterton, the common sense apostle, when He said "The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden." Yet we choose to focus on the forbidden, the sin, the death. Our Lord wants you to look beyond.
In comes the Lord of our lives and is approached by the pharisees, "what's up man! I thought you knew better! These guys can't be picking wheat, it's Saturday, the Holy Day, DUHH! Obviously you don't know what you're doing". And this is the sad state of affairs when we don't focus on the light. We begin to think that the Lord doesn't know what He is doing, and we become afraid in that fear of doubt. After the snickering and pointing of fingers, the accuser (also known as Satan), is silenced with the truth when our Lord says "If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men." But since you do not know mercy, you condemn. Think about it. If I don't know what mercy is, I have none. But mercy has a name, and it is Jesus. That is why the Lord says "For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath." Because, He is Lord of all, His mercy is greater than your laws that your heads devised. You made these laws twist to the point that they went against humans...again, remember the abortions. Our sins led to this. That is why we can not permit the smallest of sins to become habitual sins, because they grow like weeds and then the weeds take over. This is not a story for the world but your world right here and right now. How cruel was it for a man to run over a bunch of innocent people? How cruel was it for a man to shoot innocent police officers? Pretty cruel right? How about when a young women goes into an abortion clinic and asked for her baby to be ripped out of her womb? No longer is "blessed the fruity of thy womb", but cursed. And that is the focus. Tell me how you will vote. Tell me your priorities, is it the "economy" the god of money? Is it social justice that excludes the unborn? Where is the mercy God desires? Tell me what you are preaching, because cruelty is not across the world, but in our backyard. At the moment you desired death for you or someone else, your focus was in sin. When the Lord says "I desire mercy" He desires life for our souls.
Last night, at our cursillo gathering called ULtreya, we had a little sharing group, and the topic of tithing was brought up. That of giving "is it a sin not to tithe?" a stranger had asked a brother. The brother pulled up a scripture that spoke about tithing in the old Testament. It spoke of the greatness proclaimed in Heaven when we give. Another brother interrupted "but you don't necessarily have to give money, you can give time too". I chimed in later, "we should not be forced to be here, or to give...it is when we are in love with God we are here and will give of everything, our time, talent, and treasure" of course for the Kingdom of God.
And so, how can we give? Being in love. Love of God brings love of neighbor, and love of neighbor brings love of God. We have to end the focus on darkness, death. It is a silent atrocity, it is a sin. It is the payoff for peace. You be quiet about and there won't be a fight. On the other hand, you don't be quiet, and there will be a fight. Must the truth be silenced? Because the accuser is very loud. Jesus was not silenced or put in His place. He spoke of loving thy neighbor, like healing on the Sabbath, saving souls, like looking beyond mere human laws that appear to be good but lets people die in front of you. The world needs the heroism of Holiness. Not the Jihad of death, but the Jihad of true Holiness, life to life, truth to truth. Mercy, not sacrifice. When we pray, Lord have mercy, it means so much, and it means life. It means love thy fellow humans as Christ loves them. It means looking past the sin and saving the human soul. It means passing through the rage and bring out the peace of Heaven.
When we pray in Mass "Lord Have Mercy" it means to me "Lord save us", "Lord look kindly upon us" and "Lord help us", and I'm praying and learning that this mercy is amazing. Looking back at my own life, had it not been for God's mercy, I would be a wretch of a soul. But He protects. He protects those seeking the truth. And His protection is a guidance to His Sacred Heart. Mercy has eyes. Mercy has arms. Mercy has...a heart