Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Father Shawn Aaron, LC
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Introductory Prayer: Father of love, source of all blessings, you have led me throughout my life, and you lead me still. Thank you for your paternal care. Jesus, Son of God, you died for me on the cross to pay for my sins and manifest your unconditional love for me. Thank you for showing me the way home to the Father. Holy Spirit, sweet guest of the soul, you heal me and strengthen me and set me on fire from the most intimate depths of my soul. Thank you for your loving presence within me.
Petition: Jesus, help me to live authentic freedom in union with your will.
1. Bringing to All Fulfillment: Through the law and the prophets God prepared his people for salvation. In Christ that salvation is at hand: Jesus, the Word made flesh, will fulfill the law and the prophets and give them their proper interpretation. The law will move from the tablets of stone to the hearts of men, as demonstrated by the Beatitudes. Jesus came especially to fulfill the deep longing in the human heart for happiness, which is ultimately found in eternal life with God. “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
2. Breaking the Rules: “Rules are meant to be broken” – according to the first law of the “Teenage Creed.” As we approach adulthood we may discover external conflicts to our subjective happiness. We call them rules. And as the desire to exercise our own free will grows, we begin to feel the seemingly oppressive weight of these rules – “Do this, don’t do that.” Authority figures can then be perceived to be in direct opposition to our personal fulfillment. We wrongly conclude that rules and happiness are like oil and water. Then we permit patterns of sin to develop despite what our conscience tells us, and we are unwittingly given a glimpse into the way the devil suggests his criteria to us. If we are not careful, we may form deep-seated attitudes that will make us struggle against God and against his criteria – the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the cross, and the teachings of the Church.
3. The Proper Use of Freedom: “The moral law has its origin in God and always finds its source in him” (Pope Saint John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth, no. 40). Our true freedom lies not in the rejection but in the acceptance of God’s moral law. God is not a heartless dictator but a Father who loves us and wills our very best. If he sets standards for us, it is because he has our eternal happiness in mind, like a skilled coach who challenges the athlete to reach his full potential. “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?” (Matthew 7:9-10). Jesus posits the question because he knows the Father. Even if we were to know a parent that did not love his child, God the Father is incapable of not desiring what is truly best for us. God is and will always be love.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, sin is always tapping on my door, but you have promised me that your grace will always be available. Help me to avail myself of the means of grace you give me to live in union with your eternal law. Mother Most Pure, make my heart only for Jesus.
Resolution: Today I will take a few moments to reflect upon the Ten Commandments or the duties of my state in life.