Friday, 15 July 2022 : 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, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures that reminded us again of the great love and compassion that God has for each and every one of us. The Lord has shown His kindness towards us again and again, from time to time, so that through Him we may receive pardon for our sins, blessings and graces that strengthens us and keeps us strong despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to endure from time to time. Each and every one of us are so fortunate that God has always reached out to us and showed us a lot of His patient and enduring love despite all of our disobedience and wickedness.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the interaction between king Hezekiah of Judah and the prophet Isaiah at a time when Hezekiah fell mortally ill and was about to die, and the prophet himself told the king to get his house and affairs in order as he was soon about to die. The king lamented the shortness of his life and beseeched the Lord to show mercy to him and to spare him the fate of early death, out of compassion for all the faithfulness that he had shown Him, the obedience that Hezekiah as king has sshown the Lord as opposed to the wickedness and disobedience among many of his forefathers.

The Lord heard Hezekiah’s plea and granted his wishes, and the Lord not only cured him from his illness but also extended his life by another fifteen years, as a show of His most generous mercy and love, and also to show that as God, He has the power and control over all things, and hence, Hezekiah should continue to serve Him and to do His will. The Lord showed mercy to Hezekiah and extended His love to His servant in the hour of greatest need. This was what we have heard from our first reading today, detailing to us one example of God’s most enduring love for each one of us.

And not only that, as in our Gospel passage today, we also heard of the Lord confronting the Pharisees who criticised His disciples for plucking the grains of wheat in the field on the day of the Sabbath. The Sabbath day was and today is still a holy day that according to the Law of God, ought to be preserved and observed as a day of holiness, the holy day of the Lord in which the people should refrain from doing work and spend the day in honouring and worshipping God. The Pharisees in particular, together with the teachers of the Law observed this Law and interpreted it as strictly as possible, not allowing any kind of work or action at all, even things that are good or beneficial.

Unfortunately, that led to the confrontation in which when the disciples were really hungry and were likely in the wilderness, far away from any places where they could obtain food, the disciples had no choice but to eat of the grains of the field, or else they would be suffering from hunger. The Lord therefore told the Pharisees that their version and interpretation of the Law ran into danger of disregarding the true intention and purpose of the Law, which is to help mankind find their way back to the Lord, and to guide them in the right path that they may become ever closer to God and be more worthy of Him.

Instead, what the Pharisees had done ended up causing great inconvenience and hardships for the people of God, who became overly and unjustly burdened by the Law, and ended up causing more and more people to fall away from the path towards redemption. They closed the gates towards God and His grace by their inflexible and exceedingly strict interpretations of the Law, and they also closed themselves off from listening to the truth that God Himself has willingly revealed to them, through Jesus Christ, His Son, the One Who told them all that the Law of the Sabbath and as well as the whole Law itself was made for mankind, and not the other way round.

It is yet again another reminder of just how fortunate we all are to have been beloved by God, that He continued to patiently showed us the path to His salvation and grace, giving us the blessings and all that allowed each one of us to turn towards Him with faith once again. And therefore, it is only right that we dedicate ourselves to Him with love, and do our very best to follow Him wholeheartedly, all the days of our lives. Today, we should model ourselves through the life and inspiration set by St. Bonaventure, whose feast day we are now celebrating, a truly holy and great saint who should become our role model and example in life.

St. Bonaventure was a holy and dedicated man, who spent most of his life serving the Lord and His Church, as a priest, theologian and philosopher, and then later on as a bishop and Cardinal of the Church, as a close assistant and confidant of the then Pope in governing and reforming the Church of God. Through his many works, he led the blossoming of Christian theological and philosophical studies, and also with his help, the Pope worked towards the reform of the Church, removing the worldly excesses and temptations that had been creeping into the Church, leading more and more people to a more holy and committed existence in their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as St. Bonaventure dedicated his life to God and His Church out of his love for Him, therefore all of us should also remember all the love and kindness that God has shown us, and do our very best to show that same love in our lives, in how we remain firmly faithful in God and in our exemplary living, and in loving one another, in the same way that we love ourselves and God, and not to harden our hearts against Him as the Pharisees and others had done in the past. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us always with the courage to do more, in our lives, in glorifying Him at all times. Amen.

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