Friday, 15 July 2016 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the Lord Who reminded all of us that He is the Lord over all things, over the matters of life and death, and that we live at His behest and pleasure. But yet, at the same time, God Who is loving and merciful towards us has given us so much in this life, that especially this very life is the boon and the grace He has granted to all of us.

In the first reading today from the book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard how the faithful king Hezekiah of Judah laid in pain and dying from his ailment, and he begged the Lord to remember all the good and faithful things which he had done before Him, all the efforts he had put into place to return the people of God back to the ways of the Lord, after many generations of unfaithful people and kings.

He was a mortal after all, even after all the great deeds which he had done, and after all the good things that he had committed in his life. In the fear and the despair which Hezekiah felt, the attachment which he has to life made him to beg the Lord and to humble himself before his God, trying to seek His mercy and the chance to life and enjoy more years of his earthly existence.

And God granted him that desire, and indeed, not only that he was healed from his afflictions, but he was granted several more years of blessed life on earth as the reward of God for the faith and dedication which he had shown. But if we are to read on, we should see the part where king Hezekiah after he had been blessed with new life and grace, he boasted about his wealth to the envoys of the Babylonian king, despite the warning given to him about what was to come by the prophets.

Hezekiah grew proud of his human and worldly achievements and he forgot that all that he has obtained he has gained because of the Lord and His kindness and love alone. The same is often what is happening to many of us who are unable to let go of our pride, our human greed and desires. And that is why we tend to put our trust in our own human achievements and sense of greatness, without acknowledging God Who is behind of all of them.

In the Gospel, we heard one of the common confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees, as well as with the teachers of the Law. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were very particular in their observation of the Law, especially the laws and rules regarding the Sabbath day, when the people of God were not supposed to have any activities and keep that day holy for the Lord.

That Law was intended for a good purpose, that is to help the people of God in finding their way to Him, but in the implementation, it had been twisted beyond recognition by the wrong purposes of the leaders of the people who cared only for their own personal gain and for their own human pride, greed and desire, exactly what had also affected the king Hezekiah of Judah.

What does this mean brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we mankind should learn to restrain ourselves and to forgo those pride, those greed and desires that are exactly what have become hindrances and obstacles on our way as we journey on towards the Lord our God. And indeed we should not fall victim to those things, or else that is why we will be like those whom God had condemned for their lack of faith.

Let us all look at the example of St. Bonaventure, the holy servant of God whose feast we are celebrating on this day. St. Bonaventure was an Italian Franciscan monk, who was renowned for his great piety and for his dedication to the Lord. He preached to the people and cared for them, leading them by the example of his piety. He was also involved in the process of the reform of the Church at the time, leading the Church as well as the Franciscan order whom he led, into a path of piety and commitment to God.

St. Bonaventure was eventually appointed to high positions in the Church, becoming a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, and the leader of the Cardinals himself. He was influential in the reforming of the Church and his initiatives helped to strengthen the Church and save many more souls. However, he remained humble and committed to the mission which had been entrusted to him. He did not allow ego or human greed to overcome him.

The disciplined life of St. Bonaventure is a great example and he is indeed a good role model for us all. St. Bonaventure has shown us how to be good in our deeds and actions, be examples for one another and yet remain humble and remain true to our calling. It is indeed not easy to resist those temptations of power, fame and glory, as our human frailty and imperfections have allowed us to seek all of them, and many have fallen along the way because of those things.

Let us all heed that good example, and let us hope that through whatever we have done, we may become ever closer to the Lord and become more and more like Him, that He Who loves us all may recognise us as His own when He comes again to bring all of His beloved ones to His eternal glory. God bless us all. Amen.