Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest & Doctor of the Church
Today’s entrance antiphon—“Those who are wise will shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars for ever.” Cf. Dn 12:3— stands in sharp contrast with the first reading. St. Anthony’s life of preaching was a beacon of wisdom that lead many to lead lives of justice in his day and throughout the centuries. The story of the vineyard of Naboth depicts the epitome of injustice. Ahab covets Naboth’s vineyard, and his wife Jezebel shuns all moral boundaries in order to obtain it by plotting Naboth’s death. (His death is a foreshadowing of Christ who was also falsely accused and “led out of the city” to be crucified). This story is heard today in the cries of all in our world who suffer injustice at the hands of men or women who are intent upon satisfying their craving for self-gratification, power and wealth. These pleas for justice are further intensified in the responsorial refrain from Psalm 5: “Lord, listen to my groaning.” The psalmist recalls God’s justice: “For you, O God, delight not in wickedness…The bloodthirsty and the deceitful the Lord abhors” (Ps 5:5,7b).
The gospel from the fifth chapter of St. Matthew expounds on the attitude that the Christian is to have when faced by “one who is evil.” “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well” (Mt 5:39-40). Our instinctive reaction is to lash back with an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But Jesus presses us further: “Give to the one who asks of you; and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow” (Mt 5:42).
The communion antiphon, “We proclaim Christ crucified; Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God” Cf. 1 Cor 1:23-24, calls us to further reflect upon the gospel message. St. Anthony proclaimed to all the crucified Christ who quietly endured unjust treatment for our salvation. We are urged to imitate both Christ’s example and this saint’s life of virtue and wisdom, something that is possible only through the “power of God.”
For today: What are the “needs” in my life that sometimes cause me to lose my focus on the real goal in life, perhaps even at the expense of uncharitable actions toward others?
Reflection by Br. Michael Marcotte, OSB