May 11, 2016
-by Maria Nolletti Ross
“The fruit of the bee is the Son of the Virgin. ‘Blessed is the fruit of thy womb’ it says in Luke 1:42; and ‘His fruit was sweet to my palate’ in Canticles 2:3. This fruit is sweet in its beginning, middle, and end. It was sweet in the womb, sweet in the crib, sweet in the temple, sweet in Egypt, sweet in his Baptism, sweet in the desert, sweet in the word, sweet in miracles, sweet on the ass, sweet in the scourging, sweet on the Cross, sweet in the tomb, sweet in hell, and sweet in heaven. O sweet Jesus, what is more sweet than you are? ‘Jesu-the very thought is sweet . . . sweeter than honey far.’” — St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon, SUNDAY SERMONS
I’m a sermon connoisseur. Whether they are satisfying a particular question, serving up something completely new to me, or reviving my faith, I love sermons. For me, sermons are as much a part of a Holy Communion Service as the bread and wine because they feed my hunger for spiritual wisdom.
My favorite sermons are those that show me a new way of looking at a situation that completely changes my understanding and gives me hope for the future.
Of course, there are those Sundays in which the sermon doesn’t speak to me at all. No worries, I can usually find a good one to read on social media. Or I can go to the saints, such as my family’s patron, St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon.
Anthony (formerly Fernando Martins de Bulhoes) was raised in Lisbon, Portugal, where he studied theology and was ordained a priest. Later he became a Franciscan Friar who served quietly with deep humility in Italy.
Eventually, Anthony’s superiors, including the head of his order, St. Francis of Assisi, discovered his theological knowledge and gift for preaching. They encouraged him to speak his heart and spread the word. Overjoyed to receive this permission, Anthony became a teacher of friars preparing for priesthood and a life of preaching.
The above passage seems like an entire sermon in one paragraph – he quotes scripture, explains, suggests, and even ends by quoting a popular song of his day (Jesu Dulci Memoria). His advice is to read the gospels and remember that in all moments of His life on earth and in heaven, Jesus Christ is pure goodness.
In other words, there is no historical moment when Jesus became Christ on earth, he was the complete package his whole life. God’s gift of the baby Jesus contains the Crucifixion of Christ, and the Resurrection of Christ includes the death of the baby Jesus. Christmas and Easter are meaningless without each other. Together, they mean everything.
That’s a perspective I can get behind in much the same way that we stand, metaphorically, behind the saints as they guide us, through their examples and teachings, ever closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In what ways has your understanding of God deepened by listening to or reading someone else’s perspective? Who was your guide?
If you’d like to read more about St. Anthony and his life, click here for more from Maria.