Exodus 32:7–14; Psalm 106:19–20, 21–22, 23; John 5:31–47
Before he became the “go-to” saint for finding lost objects, St. Anthony of Padua had another nickname: “The Hammer of Heretics.”
A contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi, Anthony was one of the first scholars of the Franciscan movement, appointed as a teacher of theology yet combining learning with holiness. Anthony put those talents to use as a great popular preacher. It wasn’t his first choice. He had hoped to be a martyr, inspired by the first Franciscan martyrs whose bodies he saw in his native Portugal in 1220 when they were brought back from Morocco. That experience led him to join the Order and seek a similar fate.
Anthony’s wish soon came to pass and he headed to North Africa, but poor health shortened his stay in Morocco. He eventually ended up in Italy at a great gathering of friars in 1221, where he met Francis. A year later, Anthony was attending an ordination ceremony where he was called on to preach when others declined. His sermon showed that he had a preacher’s gifts.
These were put to use throughout Italy and France, as Anthony combated heresies and helped to reconcile them with the church. His work continued until a few months before his death in 1231. In today’s Gospel, Jesus confronts those determined to kill him and his message. He boldly proclaims the truth of who he is and where he has come from. Anthony learned from the Lord and helped many find faith in him.
Today’s Action Ask Anthony to help you find a deeper faith in the final weeks of Lent.
God, whom we worship in awe, make us your people and let us journey with you. May we accept your Son’s truth and come to know him and so possess life eternal. Amen.