ON ST. BONAVENTURE

"The work of Christ and of the Church never regresses but always progresses"
"The work of Christ and of the Church never regresses but always progresses"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

On the liturgical calendar, July 15 is the memorial of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Franciscan, doctor of the Church, and successor to St. Francis of Assisi in the leadership of the Order of Friars Minor. He wrote the first official biography of the Little Poor Man (Poverello), and at the end of his life he was also the bishop of this Diocese of Albano. In one of his letters Bonaventure wrote: “I confess before God that what made me love the life of blessed Francis the most was that it reflected the beginnings and growth of the Church (Epistula de tribus quaestionibus, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Introduzione generale, Roma 1990, p. 29). These words immediately send us back to today’s Gospel, of this Sunday, that presents us with Jesus’ first sending of the 12 Apostles on mission. “Jesus called the 12 to himself,” writes St. Mark, “and sent them out two by two … and he instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a staff – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic” (Mark 6:7-9). Francis of Assisi, after his conversion, practiced this Gospel to the letter, becoming a most faithful witness to Jesus; and associated in a singular way with the mystery of the cross, he was transformed into “another Jesus,” as Bonaventure, in fact, presents him.

At the inspirational center of St. Bonaventure’s life and theology is Jesus Christ. We find this centrality of Christ in the second reading of today’s Mass (Ephesians 1:3-14), the celebrated hymn of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which begins thus: “Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus, who has blessed us with every spiritual benediction in heaven in Christ.” In four passages that each begin with the phrase “in him,” referring to Jesus Christ, the Apostle then shows how this plan of blessing is realized. “In him” the Father has chosen us before the creation of the world; “in him” we have redemption through his blood; “in him” we have become heirs, predestined to be “the praise of his glory”; “in him” those who believe in the Gospel receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. This hymn of St. Paul contains the vision of history that St. Bonaventure helped to spread in the Church: all of history has Christ as its center, Christ, who also guarantees newness and renewal in every age. In Jesus, God has said and given everything, but since he is an inexhaustible treasure, the Holy Spirit never ceases to reveal and actualize his mystery. Hence the work of Christ and of the Church never regresses but always progresses.

Dear friends, let us invoke Mary Most Holy – who tomorrow we celebrate as the Virgin of Mount Carmel – that she might help us, with St. Francis and St. Bonaventure, to respond generously to the Lord’s call, to announce his Gospel of salvation with words and, above all else, with our life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives the twelve authority to preach and cast out demons. Relying on his power alone, their efforts bear fruit. Let us continue to strive to keep our lives rooted in Christ so that we too may be effective instruments of the Gospel. May God bless you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

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