The Stigmata of St. Francis

St. Francis receives the Stigmata (fresco attr...Authorized by Pope Paul V, September 17th is the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi, a feast day celebrated within the Franciscan communities.

Stigmata, from the Greek word, generically points to a “brand” or a “mark.” It is the common word to describing branding of cattle. In the Christian context it refers to the bodily marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ. St. Francis was the first person, historically recorded, who bore the marks of the crucified Christ in his hands, his feet, and in his side. Continue reading

The ones who remain

The first reading today is from the Book of Deuteronomy, an account of the last words of the prophet Moses to the people at the end of their 40-year trek in the wilderness – from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the promise land. His words are to the people who long ago made the decision to stay, to fight, to endure the years of struggle, the ones who remained. Continue reading

St Clare of Assisi

August 11th, is the feast of St. Clare of Assisi. Clare was born July 16, 1194 as Chiara Offreduccio the eldest daughter of Favorino Scifi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana.  There are many legends of how Clare and Francis met, but it is clear that Clare would have know about Francis and his movement of brothers seeking to embrace Holy Poverty.

The Beginning.  Having refused to marry at 15, she was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. At 18, she escaped one night from her father’s home, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed the long tresses to
Francis’ scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. She clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair and remained adamant. Continue reading

Feast of St. Bonaventure

StBonaventureToday marks the Feast Day of one of the great figures in Franciscan history – St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio – as well as the ninth anniversary of our Franciscan presence in this historic downtown parish.  St. Bonaventure is a good model of what it means to be a Franciscan while at the same time being a priest in leadership positions in a parish.  Bonaventure reminded the friars of his day that our first vocation is as “brother.”  At the core of our charism, we are a fraternity in mission to the People of God striving to continue our Order’s 800-year-old mission:  bringing the Gospel into the everyday experience of men and women through our life in fraternity and compassionate service to all. Continue reading

Peter’s Denial

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s maids came along. 67 Seeing Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” So he went out into the outer court. (Then the cock crowed.) 69 The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 Once again he denied it. A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more, “Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.” 71 He began to curse and to swear, “I do not know this man about whom you are talking.” 72 And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” He broke down and wept. Continue reading

Something to consider…

The Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province have served at Sacred Heart in Tampa since 2005. The friars assumed pastoral leadership from the Jesuits of the Southern Province who had well served the people since 1882. The Jesuits and their tradition continue for the citizenry of Tampa through their ministry at Jesuit High School. The Jesuits have left their mark in downtown by the amazing edifice that is our church. Their legacy also is appropriately displayed in their motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, “to the greater glory of God,” which adorns the arch over the transept/sanctuary. Continue reading

The Franciscan Scotus

Duns Scotus1November 8th is the feast day of Blessed John Duns Scotus, a Franciscan friar from Scotland noted for his theological and philosophical work in the high-middle ages (late 13th and early 14th centuries). Scotus’ work was in the generation that followed Thomas of Aquinas and Bonaventure. His work was complex and nuanced, and he is generally considered to be one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of his time. He was given the medieval accolade Doctor Subtilis (Subtle Doctor) for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought. Continue reading

Love’s Demands: action

Love Means…. What? Although the Sermon on the Mount has already included an extensive section of Jesus’ teaching to his disciples on love as fundamental to the life of discipleship (5:21–48), in this concluding encounter with his opponents Matthew gives Jesus another opportunity to summarize the core of his teaching (as 7:12). There, the teaching was to his disciples; here, it is to his opponents, in the controversy situation showing his orthodoxy as an advocate of the whole of the Law and the Prophets. Since Matthew here focuses on the argumentative aspect of the scene, he does not develop the theological issues that interest the contemporary interpreter (cf. Luke, who relocates the passage, 10:25–28): (1) the meaning of “love,” (2) the meaning of “neighbor,” and (3) the meaning of Jesus’ responding with two commands.

While Jesus quotes two OT passages (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18), it is interesting that commentators offer different opinions about the relationship between these two commandments. Here is but a sample:

  • Patte (The Gospel According to Matthew) writes: “… these two commandments remain distinct. They should not be identified with each other. Loving God should not be reduced to loving one’s neighbor! Loving God is an act of love distinct from loving one’s neighbor, and vice versa” [p. 314].
  • Boring (Matthew, New Interpreters Bible) writes: “To love God is to love one’s neighbor, and vice versa (25:31-46)” [p. 426]
  • Hare (Matthew, Interpretation Commentaries): “Truly to love God is to love the neighbor; truly to love the neighbor is to love God (cf. 1 John 4:20-21)” [p. 260].

All hold an insight. On one hand, I think that loving God means something different than just loving one’s neighbor. One can be a very kind, caring, philanthropic person without giving any thoughts or love to God. On the other hand, I don’t think that a believer can love God without loving neighbor and self, because God loves that neighbor too.

There are three basic Greek words for “love:” agapao/agape, phileo/philos, and eros. There is not always agreement among scholars about the distinction between these three choices. Boring, (Matthew The New Interpreters Bible) says that the words are synonymous — that agape is not necessarily a special word for “God-love”. He writes:

When Christians use the word love with reference to God, to the deepest human relationships, and of the stance they are to exercise toward the world, the content of this word is not to be filled in with supposed meaning of a special Greek word, but from an understanding of God’s nature made known in Christ. It is from this revelatory perspective that we come to know love as unmotivated and unmanipulated, unconditional and unlimited. Such love is not a matter of feeling, which cannot be commanded in any case, but of commitment and action. It is at the farthest pole from sentimentality and is related to the OT word for “covenant love” or “steadfast love” (hesed). [p. 425]

While there is merit to stress the nature and actions of God to give understanding to the word “love,” (i.e., it is God’s actions that give the content to agape, rather than a dictionary meaning of agape that defines God’s actions) and recognizing that the meanings of the three Greek works for “love” overlap — that is, they are partially synonymous, still there are different emphases or nuances in these three words. Given a continuum with “selflessness” on one end and “selfishness” on the other, most place agapao/agape towards the selfless end and eros towards the selfish end with phileo/philos in the middle.

Agapao/agape are words that tend to center on actions (not emotions) towards other people. Eros is a word that tends to center on emotional/sexual actions or feelings that please one’s self. Phileo/philos are words that tend to center on actions and feelings that benefit both parties, e.g., friendships. Especially as a verb, agapao refers to “loving (or caring) actions towards other people for their benefit.” It is not primarily a word to describe one’s emotions, e.g., having warm feelings towards.

For a slightly different definition, Hare, (Matthew, Interpretation Commentaries) writes:

In an age when the word ‘love’ is greatly abused, it is important to remember that the primary component of biblical love is not affection but commitment. Warm feelings of gratitude may fill our consciousness as we consider all that God has done for us, but it is not warm feelings that Deut. 6:5 demands of us but rather stubborn, unwavering commitment. Similarly, to love our neighbor, including our enemies, does not mean that we must feel affection for them. To love the neighbor is to imitate God by taking their needs seriously. [p. 260]

Loving God then implies an attachment to God — a commitment that goes beyond personal, inward feelings. The same is implied towards the neighbor. Within the OT context of this commandment (Lv 19:17-18), neighbor referred to “kin”. (However, Lv 19:33-34) extends the love to “aliens” who reside among them.


Sources

  • K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007)
  • Eugene Boring, The Gospel of Matthew in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VIII (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1994)
  • Warren Carter, Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Book, 2000)
  • R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 2007)
  • R.T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1, ed. Leon Morris (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989)
  • Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1 of Sacra Pagina, ed. Daniel J. Harrington (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991)
  • Arland J. Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 2000)
  • Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 2009)
  • Turner and D.L. Bock, Matthew and Mark in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, vol. 11 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005)

Dictionaries

  • David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996)
  • Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995)
  • Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990)

Scripture: The New American Bible available on-line at http://www.usccb.org/bible/index.cfm

Love’s Demand: testing

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested him by asking, 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39 The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Continue reading

Things Franciscan

As we enter into the celebration of the Transitus and the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I thought it good to point the interested reader to a “page” of posts about St. Francis that were part of a series I did several years ago. You can find the complete list here.

There is also a series (from several years ago) on the Admonitions of St. Francis. The “lead” post can be found here. For the most part, you can use the “previous/next” arrows on the post to navigate.

Enjoy – and Happy Feast Day!