Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, B.D. (15th July, 2016) on the Gospel and the Memorial


Is 38:1-6.21-22.7-8;
Is 38:10-12.16. (R. cf. v.27);
Matt 12:1-8.

Saint Bonaventure, known as ‘the seraphic doctor’ was born at Bagnorea in Tuscany, in 1221. At twenty-two he entered the Franciscan Order. He was chosen General of his Order at the age of thirty-five and restored a perfect calm where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions. Saint Bonaventure composed The Life of St. Francis, and also assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua. Pope Gregory X made him a Cardinal and Bishop of Albano. He died at the Second Council of Lyons on 15th July, 1274.[1] Saint Bonaventure was canonised on 14th April, 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the Church in the year 1588 by Pope Sixtus V.[2]

Topic: Beyond letters of law.

The Pharisees complained to Jesus when His disciples plucked and ate heads of grain on the sabbath. Jesus cited how David and his men ate the bread of the Presence when in need and that “priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless”. He went further, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”

Many who are guiltless have been judged and condemned without mercy even in the church. We are to be merciful as our Father is merciful, cf. Lk 6:36. Jesus teaches, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you” (Lk 6:37-38a; cf. Matt 7:1-2).

The Pharisees condemned Jesus’ disciples based on the letters of the law, cf. Ex 20: 8, 10. However, they neglected the weightier matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faith, cf. Matt 23:23. Saint James warns, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas 2:13). We ought to be cautious how we judge and condemn others following the example of Saint Bonaventure “known for his kindness, approachableness, gentleness and compassion.”[3] Mercy is not found in the letters of law.

Bible Reading: Jas 1:19-27.

Thought for today: God requires mercy.

Let us pray: May mercy, peace, and love be ours in abundance – Amen (Jude 1:2).

Saint Bonaventure – Pray for us.

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