Commentary on the Gospel of
Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
“Whoever receives you, receives me and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me…” Praying with the readings from today and the recommended readings for this feast day of St. Bonaventure, the word “relationships” surfaced.
The Egyptians and the Israelites, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, prophets, peoples, Jesus, God, and those who thirst. A question comes to mind, what do we thirst for? Is it to live in the harmony of right relationships? Peace? Love? Joy? Gratitude?
What is it to live in right relationship to life? How do we face each day as we greet the dawn and all we will meet, (people, things, creation), along the way?
I am thinking of the First Principle and Foundation of the Ignatian Exercises. “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit… Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and choose what better leads To God’s deepening God’s life in me.”
It seems to me that it can be very confusing listening to the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel when in fact it comes down to one thing, and that is living in loving relationships to the point of loving one’s enemies. In following Christ, this may mean differing opinions with those closest to us. It may mean “picking up one’s cross”.
But LOVE makes all things possible as it is the way to deepen God’s life in each of us. Love is God’s life in each of us. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (feast day readings) desires this clearly in his beautiful prayer: “I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breath and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
St. Bonaventure, (1217-1274), was a medieval theologian and served as Minister General of the Franciscan Order. He is revered among the masters of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. As author of several spiritual books on Franciscan Spirituality, he wrote the two biographies of St. Francis of Assisi, the Major Life and Minor Life, Journey of Mind into God and the Tree of Life to mention a few.
Through his writings, he presented the way a person as a creature ought to love and contemplate God through Christ after the example of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis lived his relationship with Christ Crucified as experienced in living in right relationship with all of creation. He received Christ in all encounters. He was a living prayer of great reverence for all of life, this world, and the universe.
Bonaventure recorded that all creation exists as a sacramental sign of the presence of God. I just recently completed my annual retreat on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, WI. One day while sitting by the lake, the sun glistened beautifully upon the surface of the water. I smiled and laughed to myself as I thought “God’s Bling”! It was as if the lake was a surface of reflecting diamonds.
God all dressed up in Beauty. God is Beauty! God’s name is BEAUTY. In the words of praise to Christ, by St. Francis: You are BEAUTY, Lord! The following excerpt is from the book, Simply Bonaventure by Illia Delio: “Bonaventure offers a profound system of thought that can help redefine the boundaries of what it means to be human and Christian. It is, indeed, a search and a journey that begins with desire and prayer and spirals through the complexities of our life, as we seek to find God at the center of our existence.
Bonaventure reassures us that on this journey, God is not only with us but in us, leading us in light despite the sense of ever-present darkness. To recognize God within us is to let go in freedom—of clinging to that which is not God—and embrace in love that which is God even in the midst of suffering humanity. In the end…we can only yield to this Mystery of God within us in love.
Then and only then do we see the face of God and live, for to yield in love is to return to the point from which we began. And in this return, we discover the truth of who we are created to be and the truth of the world in all its beauty.” Let us reflect on your relationship with Christ, Jesus, and pray slowly Paul’s prayer so that we “may be filled with the fullness of God.”
Then we can be aware of the next person or thing we encounter. Christ…Jesus, are you there? How do we reverence and live in awe of life and the universe? Let us not forget: “Whoever receives you, receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me…”