Wednesday, 15 July 2020 : 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 as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are brought to put our attention on God and on the matter of putting our trust in Him rather than to put our trust in worldly strength and powers. Through our Scripture passages today we are all reminded of how all power, glory, fame and matters of this world are illusory and nothing compared to God’s power and might.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard a very interesting narrative made from the perspective of the king of Assyria, which at that time was a rising superpower. The king of Assyria, which based on historical timeline and evidence is likely to refer to king Sennacherib, had continued the conquests of his predecessors, enlarging the Assyrian Empire and conquered more and more nations.

Earlier on, Assyria was the one that brought down both the kingdoms of northern Israel and also Aram-Damascus. And if we happen to remember yesterday’s first reading passage, also from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the plotting by both the kings of Israel and Aram-Damascus to conquer the kingdom of Judah, and God reassured His people in Judah that He would foil the plans of those who plotted harm and evil for His faithful.

That was why Assyria then came, sweeping through the land and the enemies of the faithful were crushed. But then, as mentioned in our first reading today, in the style of monologue, the king of Assyria showed his great pride and hubris, and wanting to go beyond what God had granted him to do. He raised up his mighty army, and went up against Jerusalem and Judah, with the intent to conquer all of them.

And by reading through the account from the Second Book of Kings, this king, Sennacherib, went on to blaspheme against God and spoke in hubris, thinking that for all the power he had, he had no one and nothing to account to, and could do as whatever he liked. This was when the Lord through His prophet Isaiah, strengthened His people and reassured them, revealing to them yet again that He would intervene on their behalf.

Therefore, a great destruction was wrought by God on the Assyrian army, and vast numbers, a hundred and eighty-five thousand men perished according to the Scriptures. And the king of Assyria had to return to his homeland in shame, failing to conquer Jerusalem and Judah and losing such a large army. And not only that, soon after, two of his sons plotted against him and murdered him in attempt to seize power.

Thus, God reminded us all that no power in this world is meaningful in the end, as everything will happen as the Lord wills it. And hubris and pride, as showed by the Assyrian king, will lead us to nowhere else but destruction and failure. The Lord wants us to get rid from ourselves the taint of pride and ambition, the corruption of greed and unhealthy desire and obsessions in this life. And this is why we should look upon the examples of our good and holy predecessors, like that of St. Bonaventure, whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Bonaventure was truly a dedicated and holy servant of God who was remembered for his great piety and dedication to the reform of the Church and the faith in the community. He was a great writer and a great theologian who spent a long time trying to reform both the Church and the community of the faithful, as part of the Franciscan Order. His contributions to the Church and the Franciscan Order helped to make the Franciscans to be renowned for their faith and intellectual depth, reforming the order further to help in their ministry to the faithful.

St. Bonaventure also devoted himself to the Church and helped in the administration of the Church. By his effort in ensuring the smooth election of the Pope at the time, he was made the Cardinal Bishop of Albano, and in his role, in addition to his commitment to the Franciscan Order, St. Bonaventure helped to renew and rejuvenate the faith of many among the faithful, restoring the faith to many among the people. Yet, despite his many positions, titles and responsibilities, St. Bonaventure remained deeply humble in his person.

By his many wise and intellectual writings on broad topics on the faith, St. Bonaventure was made a Doctor of the Church, but more importantly, he inspired many others to follow in his footsteps and be even more faithful to God. Are we able and willing to follow in the footsteps of St. Bonaventure, too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all devote ourselves to God and make good use of whatever gifts, abilities and talents that the Lord had granted us for His greater glory.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen our resolve and our dedication in serving Him, and may He empower each and every one of us to be ever more faithful and to be great inspirations and guides for one another in the way of faith. Let us all also be humble and virtuous like St. Bonaventure, and do not allow the pride of our hearts and our ambition and greed to ruin us as what happened to the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. Amen.

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