13 June – Memorial for St. Anthony of Padua, priest, religious, doctor
St. Anthony’s (1195-1231) wealthy family wanted him to be a great nobleman, but for the sake of Christ he became a poor Franciscan. When the remains of St. Berard and his companions, the first Franciscan martyrs, were brought to be buried in his church, Anthony was moved to leave his order, enter the Friars Minor, and go to Morocco to evangelize.
Shipwrecked at Sicily, he joined some other brothers who were going to Portiuncula. One day when a scheduled speaker failed to appear, the brothers pressed him into speaking. He impressed them so that he was thereafter constantly travelling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France.
A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went, speaking in multiple tongues. Legend says that even the fish loved to listen. He was a wonder worker. As one of the most beloved saints, his images and statues are found everywhere. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
– Patron Saint Index
1 Kings 21:1-16
Naboth of Jezreel had a vineyard close by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria, and Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it adjoins my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it or, if you prefer, I will give you its worth in money.’ But Naboth answered Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors!’
Ahab went home gloomy and out of temper at the words of Naboth of Jezreel, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ He lay down on his bed and turned his face away and refused to eat. His wife Jezebel came to him. ‘Why are you so dispirited’ she said ‘that you will not eat?’ He said, ‘I have been speaking to Naboth of Jezreel; I said: Give me your vineyard either for money or, if you prefer, for another vineyard in exchange. But he said, “I will not give you my vineyard.”’ Then his wife Jezebel said, ‘You make a fine king of Israel, and no mistake! Get up and eat; cheer up, and you will feel better; I will get you the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel myself.’
So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, sending them to the elders and nobles who lived where Naboth lived. In the letters she wrote, ‘Proclaim a fast, and put Naboth in the forefront of the people. Confront him with a couple of scoundrels who will accuse him like this, “You have cursed God and the king” Then take him outside and stone him to death.’
The men of Naboth’s town, the elders and nobles who lived in his town, did what Jezebel ordered, what was written in the letters she had sent them. They proclaimed a fast and put Naboth in the forefront of the people. Then the two scoundrels came and stood in front of him and made their accusation, ‘Naboth has cursed God and the king.’ They led him outside the town and stoned him to death. They then sent word to Jezebel, ‘Naboth has been stoned to death.’ When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, ‘Get up! Take possession of the vineyard which Naboth of Jezreel would not give you for money, for Naboth is no longer alive, he is dead.’ When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel and take possession of it.
Jesus said, ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.’
The kingdom of God is very near you
St Anthony of Padua is a saint well-loved by the most Catholics. Be it because he helps us find lost items or maybe we like the way he preaches, St Anthony has an important message for all of us – the kingdom of God is near us and we should be ready to share that joy with others regardless of the persecution and incorrect messages being preached.
St Anthony was known to be the “Hammer of Heretics” and Catholics at that time were surprised at how despite his fierce public rebuttals of the proponents of the Albigensian heresy, he was gentle with sinners and practiced much self-mortification and penance for the sins of the people. One lesson we can draw from St Anthony would be the need to be clear on the need to share our faith firmly but with charity. This requires two things from us: knowing what our faith teaches and a deep prayer life to allow God the Holy Spirit to guide us in all our actions. There needs to be a sense of humility within us to let God the Holy Spirit work in us.
The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah shares with us the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we can use to spread the word of God to all around us. St Anthony had used these gifts totally in the service of God and ensured that God’s message was shared to all who were willing to hear. In this year of mercy, let us pray to St Anthony to show us what it means to love with compassion and let our actions guide our preaching
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the wisdom to follow St Anthony in sharing your message to the world.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who share God’s word despite being persecuted.