Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Genesis 49 : 29-32 and Genesis 50 : 15-26a

Jacob then gave his sons these instructions : “I am soon to be gathered to my people; bury me near my fathers, in the cave in the field of Ephron, the Hittite; in the cave in the field of Machpelah, to the east of Mamre in Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place. It was there that Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried. There they buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were purchased from the Hittites.”

When Joseph’s brothers realised that their father was dead they said, “What if Joseph turns against us in hate because of the evil we did him?” So they sent word to Joseph saying, “Before he died your father told us to say this to you : Please forgive the crime and the sin of your brothers in doing evil to you. Forgive the crime of the servants of your father’s God.”

When he was given the message, Joseph wept. His brothers went and threw themselves down before him, “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph reassured them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? You intended to do me harm, but God intended to turn it to good in order to bring about what is happening today – the survival of many people. So have no fear! I will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he touched their hearts and consoled them.

Joseph remained in Egypt together with all his father’s family. He lived for a hundred and ten years, long enough to see Ephraim’s great-grandchildren, and also to have the children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, placed on his knees after their birth.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am going to die, but God will surely remember you and take you from this country to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Joseph then made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “When God comes to bring you out from here, carry my bones with you.” Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten.

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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that Jesus walked through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pick some heads of wheat and crush them to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple break the Sabbath rest, yet they are not guilty?”

“I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 38 : 10, 11, 12abcd, 16

Once I said : In the noontime of my life I go; I am sent to the land of the dead, for the rest of my years.

I said : Never again shall I see YHVH in the land of the living; never again shall I see the inhabitants of the earth.

Like a shepherd’s tent, my dwelling has been pulled down and thrown away; like a weaver, You rolled up my life and cut it from the loom.

O Lord, give me back my health and give me back my life!

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 38 : 1-6, 21-22, 7-8

In those days Hezekiah fell mortally ill and the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, went to him with a message from YHVH, “Put your house in order for you shall die; you shall not live.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to YHVH, “Ah YHVH! Remember how I have walked before You in truth and wholeheartedly, and done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of YHVH came to Isaiah, “Go and tell Hezekiah what YHVH, the God of his father David, says : I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears. See! I am adding fifteen years to your life and I will save you and this city from the power of the king of Assyria. I will defend it for My sake and for the sake of David My servant.”

Isaiah then said, “Bring a fig cake to rub on the ulcer and let Hezekiah be cured!” Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?” Isaiah answered, “This shall be for you a sign from YHVH, that He will do what He has promised. See! I shall make the shadow descending on the stairway of Ahaz go back ten steps.” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had covered on the stairway.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015 : 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 in the first reading from the Book of Exodus, how God called Moses His chosen servant while he was in exile in Midian, so that He might reveal to him the truth about the mission which He had entrusted to him. It was His will that He would deliver His people from their suffering and oppression by the Egyptians who made them their slaves.

He called Moses in the wilderness, on top of His own holy mountain, Mount Horeb, in a bush burning as if burnt by fire, and yet it is not burnt. It is the Lord Himself who revealed Himself to the world through Moses. This is echoed in the Gospel today, where our Lord Jesus Christ praised His Father in heaven, for revealing the truth and the wisdom of God to simple and humble men, and not to the prideful and the haughty.

If we note, God called Moses not as a mighty prince of Egypt, but as a humble shepherd who lived in simplicity in exile. He called this seemingly hopeless and futureless person who had once fallen from grace and glory, outcast and downtrodden, poor in speech and trembling in the sight of a great challenge which God had placed before him.

But this is exactly what God had done, for His plans and His ways are not like what we always like our think. God’s wisdom and ways are beyond the ways of men, and the mightier and more powerful we are, the less likely we are to understand the ways of our God. Our Lord does not go about as we often do. He does not boast His might over the weak and the downtrodden, and He does not despise those who are poor, unloved and dejected.

Thus He called Moses, His servant, from amongst his sheep and goats, and sending him to liberate a people living in great poverty and oppression as slaves. He sent his servant not at the head of a great and conquering army to liberate His people, but with a stick and nothing more. It may seem ridiculous to most human observers at the time, but God does things in marvellous ways indeed.

Through Moses God did His many wonders, a simple and humble man, a prince no longer but one counted among the slaves, who with his walking stick challenged the mighty Pharaoh of Egypt, one of the mightiest secular rulers at the time. And God raised His hands against Pharaoh and Egypt such that, after witnessing the true power and strength of God, let the people of Israel go.

And in the same way therefore, God had called and chosen us all from among the nations to be His people. We have been called from our various origins, all to be His people and to follow Him hopefully for the rest of our days in faith. And through us God will work His great wonders to the people, as by our actions, words and deeds we will bear witness to our Lord’s might and call many peoples to come to His presence.

On this day, we celebrate the feast of St. Bonaventure, a great bishop, preacher and a notable Doctor of the Church, who was a Franciscan Cardinal of the Church, a simple man, who gave himself to a simple life in a life dedicated to the service of the Lord and His people, and yet he was called for something even greater, and through his many works and teachings, which inspired so many people, he was also renowned by his title of the Seraphic Doctor.

St. Bonaventure joined the Franciscans, a religious order renowned for its simplicity, holiness and filled with devotion to God. He would have been content with such a simple, prayerful life, and yet God called him to a greater purpose. He preached against heresies and published many of his writings which became a great source of inspiration in the faith. Eventually, the Church recognised his great efforts and he was made a bishop and then a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, giving him even greater reach and responsibility.

The example of St. Bonaventure shows us that while we are perhaps simple and small in comparison with others we see around us, and even though our achievements seem to be minuscule compared to that of mankind combined together, but it is exactly what God needs. He calls not the mighty and the prideful, but the simple, to be moulded into His tools, for the good of all mankind.

May Almighty God inspire in us and awaken in us the fullness of love and faith in Him, so that we may devote ourselves ever more to His cause just as His servants Moses and St. Bonaventure had been. We may be small and insignificant, but God reveals His wisdom precisely to those like us, so that by our actions and deeds, filled with the goodness and truth of our Lord, we may be deemed righteous and just, and be worthy of the glory of heaven that awaits us. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 25-27

At that time, on that occasion Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this is what pleased You.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”