20 May – St Bernadino of Siena
Bernardino (“Little Bernard”) was born in Tuscany. His parents died when he was a child. While still a student at the University of Siena he took charge of the hospital there when an epidemic killed most of the staff. Later he looked after a bedridden aunt until her death; and then, at the age of 22, he became a Franciscan.
Inspired by St Vincent Ferrer, he was an energetic and popular preacher and spent years travelling on foot through Italy preaching to enormous audiences. He denounced usury, promoted peace among the warring Italian cities, and worked hard for the reform and discipline of the Franciscan order, and for church unity.
Bernardino’s achievements before he became a Franciscan show what the young can achieve if given the chance. Let us try not to confirm them in a culture of enforced irresponsibility, but to encourage each of them to give to others whatever they have been called into this world to give.
Paul addressed these words to the elders of the church of Ephesus:
‘Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the overseers, to feed the Church of God which he bought with his own blood. I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering how night and day for three years I never failed to keep you right, shedding tears over each one of you. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your inheritance among all the sanctified.
‘I have never asked anyone for money or clothes; you know for yourselves that the work I did earned enough to meet my needs and those of my companions. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”’
When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. By now they were all in tears; they put their arms round Paul’s neck and kissed him; what saddened them most was his saying they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world,
and for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’
There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.
We live in a world of material privileges. Credit card discounts, voucher promotions or even promotional code discounts; all these are ways to entice us into purchasing something. However, the readings of today remind us that we have received the greatest gift — the Love of Jesus Christ.
As Christians, God has shown us the perfect and total way of loving, which is that of sacrifice. By giving up the little material comforts we have for Christ, we will definitely appreciate the sacrifice of love that Christ has shown. This is not done because we want to show Jesus that we truly love Him, but that through our actions to our neighbours, we will demonstrate the great Love He has shown.
The love of Jesus is self-sacrificial and is unlike that of this world, which is selfish. Through continued reflection on the image of Christ, we will discover within ourselves the capacity to love our neighbours as ourselves. This is not an easy task but we certainly can make it there with continued prayer.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, do let us discover what it means to be another person in Christ.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who show us what it means to love unceasingly.