July 15, 2008
Saint Bonaventure, bishop. Memorial
Matthew 11: 20-24
Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’ For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you; I know that you are present here and everywhere and are always looking out for me and guiding me. I trust and hope in you, because I know you will never lead me astray, if only I listen to you and obey you. I love you for being so good and patient with me, and I desire to live each day more faithful to you.
Petition: God, my Father, open my eyes to see your wonders and help me to respond responsibly to your gifts!
1. The Wonders We Have Seen While reading this Gospel passage, we could easily think it is in no way applicable to us, since Jesus is talking to inhabitants of ancient cities who had seen him face-to-face. However, we should think twice. While we may not have seen miracles first-hand, as did those who saw Christ in Chorazin and Bethsaida, what we do have is the Scripture account of the many great things God did from before Jesus’ conception up to the early years of the Church – more than any one in Jesus’ time could have. In addition, we have the whole history of Christianity, which is in itself a miracle – let alone the lives and deeds of so many saints who have brought Christ to the world through their words and works. And yes, we have miracles even in our own times. Our experience of Jesus’ wonders may be less intense and personal, but it is much more vast and confirmed by a multitude of witnesses. Do we ever stop to think about how many reasons we have for believing?
2. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants If we have so much evidence of Jesus’ wonders, we also have a tremendous opportunity. If we make the effort to know those wonders through reading the Scriptures and the writings of the saints, and contemplating the past and present situation of the Church, we can enrich our faith tremendously. We can learn from the example of those who have gone before us and lived holy lives. The first generations were “winging it”, so to speak; they didn’t have many details of doctrine, liturgy, methodology of Christian prayer, etc., worked out. They were saints, but without much support. We have inherited a rich tradition that teaches us how to recognize God’s work in our lives and collaborate with it to do great things for God. We are “standing on the shoulders of giants.” Do we take advantage of this great treasure?
3. Much Will Be Asked Us! Our responsibility is as great as our opportunity. Jesus excoriated those who had seen him and had not believed. We have not seen him face-to-face, but we have seen his wonders in myriad other ways. The witness of the saints of our own days, the fidelity of the Church to the truth across two millennia, the work of the Holy Spirit constantly renewing the Church and transforming her methods of outreach to answer the needs of every generation, while conserving a growing patrimony of spirituality, liturgy and theological reflection… We have no excuse for not following Christ and seeking constant conversion to conform our lives to Christ’s message. Are we ready to stand before God on Judgment Day and say we’ve truly responded to all the gifts we have received? Or would we feel a need to find excuses for not living like authentic Christians?
Conversation with Christ: Blessed Lord, there are times when I wish I could see you face-to-face and see your miracles as your disciples did during your public life. Help me to learn to discover you in all the ways your love and greatness are present to me. Don’t let me be indifferent or irresponsible, but rather make me an enthusiastic Catholic, on fire with love for you!
Resolution: I will make an extra effort today to see and appreciate God’s wonders in my life, and be more generous in doing what he asks of me.
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