St. Bonaventure

Ang relationship daw ay parang bluetooth. Kapag nasa tabi ka nila, they stay connected. Pero kapag wala ka na sa paningin nila, they search for new devices.

Ang love daw parang bayad sa jeep, minsan dapat ready kang hindi masuklian.

Ang babae, hindi ‘yan happy meal na ‘collect them all,’ mas lalong hindi yan Pokemon na ‘gotta catch them all.’ Minamahal ‘yan.

Christianity is not about rules, it is fundamentally about a relationship. Rules are in place so that this very relationship is safeguarded.

In our Gospel we just heard, the Pharisees who took Jesus to task because His apostles plucked grain on the Sabbath so that they had something to eat were eaten up by the things that ‘could not’ be done, but had no concern about the ones that ‘should’ be done.

In effect, they reduce their faith in God to just a plain duty, their faith is merely shown by tying themselves up to an obligation, their religion is manifested by their strict observance to a set of rules.

The image of worshiping a God who reveals Himself to us out of His great love for us is blurred. In their desire to follow the law to the letter, they forget about a God who is full of mercy, of love, and of compassion.

We saw in the first reading how this God could go away with his own laws by giving extra 15 years to King Hezekiah who was already mortally ill.

This was revealed by the prophet Isaiah. And yet, when the king wept bitterly, God was so moved that He willed to make the king live longer.

The same incident we can speak of with the saint we honor today, St. Bonaventure. St. Francis gave him this name; for, after having miraculously cured him from a deadly disease, he prophetically exclaimed of the child, “O bona ventura!” – good fortune.

Don’t get me wrong. Rules are important. They are in place because they serve a purpose. However, they are not the be-all and end-all of our being Catholics.

We know that when we are in a relationship, we are not supposed to look absorbedly at other girls. Not because our girlfriends say so, but because we feel that we are obliged to. Our love for our girlfriends obliges us so: Love is the ultimate law.

Going for Sunday Mass is an obligation not because we have a god who accounts for all the Sunday Masses we attended, and punishes us if we fail to reach the quota.

Instead, we make the Sunday holy because we value our relationship with God who has loved us more than we love ourselves. Our love for this God, obliges us to honor this weekly date with Him.

In 2013, SWS released a survey on the percentage of Catholics who regularly attend the Mass. Only 37% of Filipino Catholics fulfill this weekly date with the Lord. This makes us questioned what happened to the 63% of us.

I hope that when we finish our stint here in Don Bosco, we still keep this practice of thanking the Lord, of praying to Him, in the context of the community in the Holy Mass.

Let us pray that this Eucharist may nurture in us a greater love for Him, so that His rules we may see not as a mere duty or burden, but an expression of gratitude and love.

Let us ask St. Bonaventure, who is also called ‘Seraphic Doctor’ because of his great love for God mirrored in his writings, to teach us his ways, so that we may come to love the Father with the same tenor as he has loved Him.

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