Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor – Readings

Commentary on Isaiah 61:1-3; Psalm 88; Luke 10:1-9

The Gospel reading from Luke describes seventy-two of Jesus’ disciples being sent out on a mission to do the work that Jesus was doing – proclaiming the Kingdom of God, healing people of their sicknesses and reconciling sinners. Jesus tells them that the harvest is great and that more people need to be sent out to help bring it in. He warns them that they are to be prepared, like Jesus himself, to meet with opposition. It is like sending lambs out among wolves. They are to bring peace to a world full of violence and hatred. They are to travel as lightly as possible, carrying only the barest necessities. Many of their needs will be met by those they are helping.

Wherever they go, they are to stay in the first house that offers hospitality. They are not to be picking and choosing and move from one house to another. They are to bring healing, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is coming among them. It is coming in the person of Jesus and in the message that he brings. A message of universal and unconditional love, a message of caring service to all, a message of community, fellowship and sharing.

Anthony of Padua exemplified this in his life. He constanstly sought a life of the utmost simplicity, and also used his inborn gift of eloquence to bring the message of the Gospel to large numbers of people. This is beautifully expressed in the First Reading which is from the prophet Isaiah. The words are those which Jesus himself used to describe his mission when he preached one Sabbath day at the beginning of his public life, in the synagogue of his home town, Nazareth:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners…

Anthony was filled with the Spirit of his Lord. He had been anointed at his baptism and later at his ordination to the priesthood. Through his preaching, he brought good news, his words brought comfort and healing, he showed those made captive by their appetites how to be free, and brought liberation to those who were imprisoned by fear and anxiety and the many forces which dominate our lives. In our own way and, according to the particular circumstances of our life, each one of us is expected to bring the same message to the people who are part of our lives.

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