May 20 – Memorial for St. Bernadine of Siena, Priest
Bernadine (1381-1444) was a Friar Minor, a priest, an itinerant preacher, and a theological writer. His preaching skills were so great, and the conversions so numerous, that he has become associated with all areas of speaking, advertising, public relations, etc.
Bernadine’s charismatic preaching filled the piazze of Italian cities. Thousands of listeners flocked to hear him and to participate in dramatic rituals, which included collective weeping, bonfires of vanities, and exorcisms. He was a renowned peacemaker, in the Franciscan tradition, who tried to calm feuding clans and factions in the turbulent political world of the Renaissance. His preaching visits would often culminate in mass reconciliations, as listeners were persuaded to exchange the bacio di pace, or kiss of peace.
Bernadine was sensitive to the demands of secular life, and tried to negotiate between Christian ethics and a conflicting code of honour that stressed retaining face in a public world. He argued that the catalyst of civil discord in the urban setting was malicious gossip, which led to insults, and, too often, vendetta by aggressive males. His surprising allies in his peacekeeping mission were the women who comprised the majority of his audience.
- Patron Saint Index
From Cilicia Paul went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra. Here there was a disciple called Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess who had become a believer; but his father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy, and Paul, who wanted to have him as a travelling companion, had him circumcised. This was on account of the Jews in the locality where everyone knew his father was a Greek.
As they visited one town after another, they passed on the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, with instructions to respect them.
So the churches grew strong in the faith, as well as growing daily in numbers.
They travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, having been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas.
One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘If the world hates you,
remember that it hated me before you.
If you belonged to the world,
the world would love you as its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
because my choice withdrew you from the world,
therefore the world hates you.
Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too;
if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well.
But it will be on my account that they will do all this,
because they do not know the one who sent me.’
“If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own.”
I have always found it fascinating that from the time of Jesus to current times, there is a very consistent reference to ‘belonging to the world’ as opposed to not belonging to it.
This applies whether it is in a Middle-Eastern or Western culture. There is no escaping this. Such is the strength of our selfish human nature. ‘Belonging to the world’ somehow means being self-centred and unloving.
It is clear to me, when we look at it this way, that there is simply NO middle ground. One simply ‘belongs’ to this world, or one does not; we cannot be a good Christian and still be a part of this world; the Bible is clear on that.
I have struggled with this my whole life. For many years, I had lived a compartmentalised life –having a ‘worldly’ compartment for work and other pragmatic situations, and a ‘Christian’ compartment for other areas such a ‘faith’ and parts of family and other Christian interactions. This situation causes constant conflict and much effort and energy is spent on deciding which compartment to place our interactions in.
Over time, I realised that such a situation resulted in me not being able to lead an authentic Christian life and faith coming out of such a compartmentalised life was at most lukewarm. Lukewarm!
This troubles me because we are warned against having lukewarm faith in Revelations 3:15-16, where possessing lukewarm faith, where we are neither ‘hot’ nor ‘cold’, will cause us to be ‘spit out’ from God’s mouth. Such lukewarm faith will lead us to live under the illusion that we are doing well when in reality we are not.
May we be able to draw upon the Lord’s strength to decide to lead a life full of ‘hot’ faith. May we have the courage to do so, and recognise that our time on earth is short and that we ultimately belong to God.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Help us Father to always keep our eyes on You. Help us to have eyes of faith to discern the right path to take. Be with us Lord Jesus, as we seek to do the right thing.
Thanksgiving – Jesus Lord, thank You for showing what it means to walk in Your path. Thank You for helping us realise that we are not alone in our daily journey.