We are featuring a series of nine Faith Sharing of Virtues of St. Anthony of Padua that were presented during the fiesta 9-day novena masses. This will temporarily replace the Sunday Gospel Reflections; after which the Gospel Reflections will return.
PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
LOVE ABOVE ALL
by Randy Limjoco
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus the Bread of Life
Born into a Portuguese noble family in 1195, Anthony defied his father’s wishes to become a knight and, instead, followed the call of God to become a humble monk. He eventually joined the Franciscans and was a follower of St Francis of Assisi. Anthony became renowned for his powerful preaching and his miracles that won countless souls for Christ.
An ordination service of both Franciscans and Dominicans was to be held at Forli, at the Franciscan Convent there. Through some misunderstanding, not one of the Dominicans had come prepared to deliver the expected address at the ceremony and no one among the Franciscans seemed ready to fill the breach. Anthony, who was present, was told by his superior to go forward and speak whatever the Holy Ghost put into his mouth. Reluctantly, Anthony obeyed. Once having begun he delivered an address which astonished all who heard it by its eloquence, fervor and learning.
“We are here today to celebrate the young men who have embraced Christ’s cross.
They have promised to help Him carry it.
They have reached this moment coming from different and difficult paths.
Following the light which illuminates the darkness of night.
The light of Divine Providence
It is written that the Lord is the light
Each one of us dreams of Him at night and looks for him in the morning
The young men you see here today have done this.
This is what the men who consecrate their lives to Christ do.
They abandon the woman they love, forget their friends,
They disappoint their father and abandon their mother.
They say goodbye to pride, wealth, comforts, their homeland.
Yet they are not alone.
They are no longer alone.
Wherever they go, they take with them their loved ones, their friends, their mother, their father and their homeland.
Because Christ is home and peace adventure and tranquillity.
Because the questions are infinite, but there is only one answer.
Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
A Sermon by Saint Anthony of Padua
First Sunday after Pentecost
“God is love,” we read today at the beginning of the Epistle. (I John iv, 8) As love is the first of all the virtues, we shall treat of it here at some length in a special way . . . .
If God loved us to the point that he gave us his only begotten Son, by whom he made all things, we too should love one another. The Lord Jesus says, “I give you, “a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John xiii, 34).” . . . St. Augustine says we have four things to love. The first is above us: God. The second is ourselves. The third is around us: our neighbor. The fourth is within us: our body. The rich man loved his body first and above everything else. God, his neighbor, his soul, he had not a thought; that was why he was damned.
Our Body, says St. Bernard, should be to us like a sick person entrusted to our care. We must refuse it many of the worthless things it wants; on the other hand, we must forcefully compel it to take the helpful remedies it doesn’t want it.
We should treat our body as not something belonging to us but as belonging to Jesus who bought it at so high a price, and whom we must glorify in our body. We should love our body in the fourth and last place, not as the goal of our life.”
St Anthony because he was born a Nobleman’s son, his father a rich merchant if living today would probably be one of our neighbors in Forbes, Dasmarinas Urdaneta. It is thus fitting that the Santuario de San Antonio would have St Anthony as its patron saint.
Although born rich, he preferred to live amongst the poor. He rebelled against and fought the greedy money lenders of Padua who forced many lenders into prison when they couldn’t repay their debts. The wives and children of the imprisoned debtors were forced into prostitution or slave labor.
St Anthony witnessed how the rich and those in public office took advantage of their power and wealth causing so much suffering among the people.
Through prayer and persistent dialogue he was able to convert many of the rich and powerful in Padua to change their ways and free the prisoners if they were able to surrender their possession in exchange of their debt.
How I wish St Anthony were alive and living among us now as our government leaders today seem not so different . I wonder how St Anthony would have reacted had he seen the photo of three of our Senators on the front page of today’s Phil Star clowning and frolicking for the cameras as if they had just won a great victory instead of having been indicted for plunder.
I would not have been at all surprized had St Anthony received the stigmata inflicting upon him the wounds that our Lord Jesus received when nailed on the cross. Our Lord Jesus was tempted for 40 days and nights in the dessert by Satan. St Anthony was tempted by Satan for most of his life sometimes his fellow Friars would find him whipping himself atop a nearby hill after enduring a demonic temptation in his sleep. He finally achieved his dream to free his spirit from his body at the age of 36 and joined God in Heaven.
I have prayed many times to St Anthony asking for his intercession especially during my service with the Parish Pastoral Council where I had the privilege of serving twice as it’s president. The PPC faced many challenges as it does every year but thanks to the intercession of St Anthony most of the problems were resolved
I pray for my lovely wife that she be blessed with many more healthy years as my life long companion.
I pray for our 3 children and their spouses that they continue to grow in love with one another, increase their faith in God and be blessed with the opportunity to serve in the church in any of its many ministries.
I pray for our 9 grandchildren that they grow up in a better world with less wars, more respect for the rule of law, for equal opportunity for all citizens, freedom to those wrongfully incarcerated and where human life is valued and cherished from the moment of conception.
St Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
Finally, I pray for all the parishioners and visitors to the Santuario de San Antonio that they be inspired by St Anthony to work together in harmony to continue building up the church and fulfil her mission and vision to set captives free, give sight to the blind and bring the good news of salvation to all.