13 June, Monday – Towards a more radical love

Jun 13 – 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 Kgs 21:1-16
Mt 5:38-42

“…offer the wicked man no resistance.

When I think about particularly negative experiences I had with people, one incident from a former workplace stands out. I had submitted a piece of work to my supervisor, and she was evidently not pleased with what I had done. As she was going through the draft with me, she made certain sarcastic comments that were rather demeaning and revealed the prejudice that she had against me. The entire conversation took place within earshot of the colleagues who were present in the office. After the meeting, I felt so hurt and humiliated that I locked myself in the toilet and sobbed for two hours. Subsequently, I kept my distance from this supervisor and maintained a detached attitude in my dealings with her. The damage was done. I felt that since she was so callous towards my dignity, she did not deserve my respect.

One of the toughest things about being a Christian is the call to love one’s enemies. By ‘enemies’, I mean anyone whom we feel has done us wrong in some way. In today’s Gospel, Jesus lists some examples of how a Jew could go the extra mile for a person who is doing some ‘evil’ to them. For instance, in those times, a Roman soldier could legally force a person to carry his equipment for up to one mile. That would be unbearable enough, but Jesus is telling us to offer to carry the soldier’s equipment for an extra mile. This soldier is not only a stranger, but a face of the Roman oppression that was so abhorred by the Jews. To show such kindness to an enemy is unthinkable by human standards. But as Christians and imitators of Christ, we are each called to make such unthinkable moves.

Kindness begets kindness, so the saying goes. Oftentimes, when people are trapped in situations of conflict and mutual retaliation, it becomes difficult to remember that kindness can be very disarming. A simple act of kindness could potentially defuse built-up tension and mark the beginning of reconciliation. If we could put ourselves through the difficult process of letting go of our pride, vengefulness, hurt and malice, then we can allow love to take their place. We cease to place ourselves at the centre, and start to orientate ourselves towards God. Through imitating our Father in His perfect love, we will come to know Him better.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)

Prayer: We pray for someone whom we feel has hurt us or done us injustice. Lord, help us to free ourselves from attachments to negative emotions that prevent us from loving them as a child of God.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the grace of forgiveness and the peace and healing that it brings.

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