Coming to Know God Personally, 15th Wednesday (I), July 15, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Wednesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Cardinal
July 15, 2015
Ex 3:1-6.9-12, Ps 103, Mt 11:25-27


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today our readings and feast focus on God’s revelation of himself and what the conditions are for us to receive that revelation and respond well to it so that we may come to grow in the personal knowledge and love of God.
  • In the first reading, God reveals himself to Moses in two ways. Tomorrow we will cover a third. The first was is in the burning bush. Moses was fascinated by the sight of a bush on fire but not being consumed by the flames, saying to himself, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
    and see why the bush is not burned.” God reveals himself as an inexhaustible flame, someone who’s love is infinite and never-ending. The second way God reveals himself is as “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” He is a personal God. Unlike the pagan deities who were gods of things — fire, war, the sun, eros, etc. — God reveals himself as the God of people. He seeks to enter into relationship with us. I stress often that the English language is impoverished with regard to the verb to know. In most other languages there is a distinction between knowing something or about someone and knowing something or someone intimately. It’s the distinction between sapere and conoscere in Latinsavoir and connaître in French, saber and conocer/conhecer in Spanish and PortugueseGod wants to know us with conoscere, not as an object of study, but as an intimate friend, as a Father, and when we come to know him in this day, we know him as a Father who loves us with an unquenchable burning love.
  • In the Gospel today, Jesus describes that it is the will of the Father to reveal himself to us, but Jesus puts two conditions or our receptivity to God’s self-revelation. First, God reveals himself to us in his Son, and then second, in order to receive that revelation in Jesus we need as spiritual children to enter into Jesus’ own filiation. Jesus tells us, “No one knows the Son except the Father,
    and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” The way we come to know God the Father and the depth of his ardent love is through Jesus’ revealing him to us. Jesus is the icon of the Father and also speaks not only of the Father but also what he hears the Father saying. His whole mission on earth was to help us establish this loving bond with the Father, teaching us by his example and explicit instructions to pray, “Our Father.” And the way we enter into that relationship with the Father is not just through spiritual childhood but entering into Jesus’ spiritual childhood. Jesus joyfully exclaims in prayer, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will!” We can’t get to know the Father as Father unless we see ourselves not just as children, but his children, and we do that in Jesus. The wise and the clever of this world try to pretend as “grown-ups,” who say, “Thanks, but I’ve got it from here,” who seek to be self-sufficient rather than dependent on the Father, who behave like the sons in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the first of whom treats the Father as if he is as good as dead to him and no longer needed, and the second treats him more as a slave master than as a dad. To receive the revelation of the Father we need to be open like children, we need to be receptive and trusting, we need to learn from Jesus, who is not only the revelation of the Father but also the revelation of how to relate to the Father as a beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased.
  • Today we celebrate the feast of a saint for whom God was a personal God of great burning love, one whom he had gotten to know through Christ, through the alter Christ of St. Francis, and through the way both taught him how to live as a much-loved Son of God. And St. Bonaventure, the great 13th century Franciscan doctor of the Church, sought to share with us how to enter more deeply into this intimate knowledge of God.
  • His most famous spiritual work is called Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, “The Journey of the Soul into [the very life of] God.” He describes in it how to grow in this intimate knowledge, this conoscere, of the Lord. It’s a paradoxical path. It’s a path not fundamentally of our action but of our freely allowing God to act. It’s a path, therefore, of childlike receptivity, of allowing ourselves to become inflamed with and united to the very flame of God. It’s a path in which God becomes ever more personal. As we pondered this morning in the Office of Readings, St. Bonaventure said that for us to grow in our relationship of loving, ardent, filiation, we need to “seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; the Bridegroom not the Teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love.” In the world we often place our trust in what we can do, in what we’ve learned, in what we’ve understood, in our own study, in light rather than the unknowing darkness, but St. Bonaventure lays out for us the path of true faith. He goes on to say that for us truly to enter into Jesus’ filiation we must die to the old Adam in us through entering into Jesus’ Paschal Mystery: “Let us die, then,” he continues, “and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: ‘It is enough.’ We may hear with Paul: ‘My grace is sufficient for you’; and we can rejoice with David, saying: ‘My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage forever.’”  In the opening prayer of today’s Mass, we asked God that on this celebration of St. Bonaventure’s heavenly birthday, “we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate” the way he loved God, the way he lived by faith, the way he bore fruit that continues to nourish the entire Church. One of the greatest ways God wants to answer that prayer is by strengthening us to follow St. Bonaventure on this itinerary into the very life and burning love of God.
  • St. Bonaventure regularly made that journey in all his prayer but the foremost way that he did so was at Mass. It was at Mass and adoring Jesus outside of Mass that received the Son’s definitive mysterious revelation of the Father’s burning love. He wrote a prayer, his famous Transfige, which the Church continues to pray after Mass to the Lord we have received within. I’d like to finish with that prayer, in the hope that you might take it up as something you will pray in thanksgiving after Mass and come through St. Bonaventure’s prayer to enter into a similar relationship of filiation with God, because the God who gives us his Son on the altar is the God of Bonaventure and Francis and Roger and Sisters Hope, Gianna, Maria Emmanuel, Bridget Ancilla Domini, Maeve, Monica Faustina :
  • “Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of your love and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity,” the Seraphic doctor wrote, “that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for you, may yearn for you and for your courts, may long to be dissolved and to be with you.  Grant that my soul may hunger after you, the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delightful taste.  May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon you, Whom the angels desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of your savor; may it ever thirst for you, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the fulness of the house of God; may it ever compass you, seek you, find you, run to you, come up to you, meditate on you, speak of you, and do all for the praise and glory of your name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, with perseverence to the end; and be yours alone ever my hope, my entire confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably.  Amen.”



The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 Ex 3:1-6, 9-12

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”
When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your father,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
The cry of the children of Israel has reached me,
and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”But Moses said to God,
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh
and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
He answered, “I will be with you;
and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you:
when you bring my people out of Egypt,
you will worship God on this very mountain.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1b-2, 3-4, 6-7

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Alleluia See Mt 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”