June 13, 2018

Anthony of Padua

June 13, 2018:  St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor

The young man's question to Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?,” contains the challenge of existence: what path must we walk to achieve the full and eternal life we want?  The greatest challenge isn't concrete problems; it's avoiding mediocrity and faintheartedness.  If you settle for bland mediocrity, even if you follow the rules, your life won't be full and authentic.  Ask the Lord for healthy restlessness.
Jesus tells the young man to follow the Commandments, but then points to something greater, because the young man's life isn't full.  The transition to maturity takes place when you start to accept your limits and become aware of what's lacking.  Jesus invited the young man to go beyond the Commandments:  sell, give to the poor, and follow him, and so have treasure in heaven.
Choose the rich, fulfilling life Jesus offers.  It's not nice to meet fainthearted Christians with shrunken hearts who are happy not going the whole way.  Jesus came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it; he wants to give us something greater.  The young man had reached a threshold and was challenged leap beyond living only for himself to embrace Jesus’s offer of true wealth.  Pursue the path of true life, true love, true wealth!
Yodh (see below)
  • 1 Kgs 18:20-39  Elijah:  If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.  Let's call on our gods and see who answers with fire.”  They prepared bulls and called to their gods, but no one answered the prophets of Baal.  When Elijah called on the Lord, fire came down and consumed the offering.  All fell prostrate:  “The Lord is God!”
    • Ps 16:1b-2b, 4-5b, 8, 11  "Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope."  Those who court other gods multiply their sorrows.  You'll show me the path to life, joy, and delight.
    • Mt 5:17-19  “I came not to abolish the law and prophets but to fulfill them.  Whoever breaks the least commandment will be called least in the Kingdom, but whoever obeys and teaches the commandments will be called great.”
    • Yodh (Yud)the "smallest letter" of the Hebrew alphabet, is the first letter of God's Name; its top spur is "the smallest part of a letter" (Mt 5:18).  Not the smallest letter or part will disappear from the Word.  God uses the small to demonstrate his power.  More
      Tetragrammaton (YHWH)
      starting with Yodh
      (remember Hebrew is right-to-left)
    • Creighton:  Today’s Gospel challenges me to break out of the false dichotomy between commandments, laws, sacrifices and punishments demanded by “Old Testament God” and love, grace, forgiveness and salvation offered by “New Testament God.”  Jesus said, “Not the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law.”  God set the Commandments to help bound or guide our free will.   A person grows through stages, ideally adapting and integrating external factors and forces into personal beliefs and behaviors. Is Jesus teaching us that God begins with a tight grip, then allows for increasing freedom over time?  That God’s core laws are meant to become the fabric of our being, so we can better exercise God’s gift of free will, so that we may sin and forgive and grow in loved, so we may choose to incorporate the law and accept the grace?...   
    • Baby Jesus and St. Anthony of Padua
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Make disciples":  The Lord gave Elijah the job of bringing down the idolatrous kingdom of Ahab.  Elijah prophesied a 3-year drought, and it came to pass, crippling the economy, but Ahab and Jezebel survived.  Then Elijah called down fire on Mt. Carmel and slit the throats of Baal's prophets, and Ahab and Jezebel swore to kill Elijah.   Elijah became despondent, and God sent an angel to restore him.  Elijah heard God's whisper, God told him to make Elisha his disciple, through whom God worked to destroy the kingdom of Ahab.  Prophecies, drought, fire, and the extermination weren't enough, but making a disciple changed the world.  Be Jesus' disciple and make disciples.
    • Passionist:   Jesus says he came to fulfill the law.  The end of today's gospel seems to contain a tension on how to follow the commandments.  Was it a struggle for the community, mainly Jewish Christians?  How are they to understand the law?  Jesus assures them that the law still counts, but he'll continue with the "you've heard, but now I say" examples.  We don’t like change.  We can deny reality or strive to attain illusions, even harming ourselves on the way, even leading others astray.  But we must love, visit, clothe, feed, and show mercy to the least, like Elijah trusting God's power to act through us.  Jesus shows us how to live the commandments, to adjust our lens to reflect mercy and meet and love people where they are.  We become great by living the commandments; by following them we walk towards the light and away from harm.  May we remember the Good News when we go astray.  Our encounters must renew, remake, and restore us.  We must pay attention to God's movements. In accepting the least, we become great....
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Great are those who teach and obey the commandments":  Jesus' loved and meditated on God's law.  "The law" referred to the 10 commandments, the Pentateuch/Torah, or God's whole teaching to his people; Jews also used it to describe the oral law to which scribes added more than God intended.  Jesus made it clear God's commandments must be fulfilled.  God's law of grace, love, and freedom flows from his love, goodness, and holiness.  Jesus taught reverence for God, the Lord's Day, parents, life, property, oneself, and others.  Respect for God's commandments teaches us love of God and neighbor.  God gives us grace to love, forgive, think, and act like him.  We must love his commandments and hate wrongdoing.  The Spirit writes God's law on our hearts, gives us wisdom and understanding, helps us in our weakness, strengthens us in temptation, and transforms us into the likeness of Christ....
    • Universalis:  Anthony of Padua, monk, Franciscan friar; missionary to Africa, Italy, and beyond; theologian, "hammer of heretics," "evangelical doctor," "lost and found" patron; see also Wikipedia.
    Dress legend (too bad I lost the picture before posting this page)
    • 'Alps' pin:  Elijah and the prophets on Mt. Carmel (1st reading)
    • 'Golden calf' tie pin:  Elijah pits the Lord against the Baal prophets (1st reading)
    • 'Fire' pin:  Fire consumed Elijah's offering (1st reading)
    • 'Stone' tie pin:  Elijah built an altar with stones (1st reading) 
    • 'Sword' tie bar, 'blood drop' pin:  They slashed themselves with swords till blood gushed (1st reading); I won't pour out blood libations to other gods... (psalm)
    • 'Car with mouth' pin:  ...nor take their names on my lips (psalm)
    • 'Hand' tie pin:  With the Lord at my right hand I won't be disturbed (psalm)
    • 'J' tie bar (10th letter, like י):  "Not the smallest letter will pass from the law..."; Jesus is fulfillment of Law and Prophets (gospel)
        • 'Tablet' pin:  I came to fulfill, not abolish, the law...  (gospel) 
          • White shirt:  Liturgical color for St. Anthony
          • Doctor's office' tie:  Anthony of Padua, 'Doctor' of the Church [trumped 'commandments' tie]

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