Thought of the day
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time

Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), Franciscan, Doctor of the Church Life of St Francis, Legenda Major 1,5-6 (trans. ©2000 Franciscan Institute of St Bonaventure)

Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time

Commentary of the day 

Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), Franciscan, Doctor of the Church Life of St Francis, Legenda Major 1,5-6 (trans. ©2000 Franciscan Institute of St Bonaventure)

        “Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him”

One day while he was riding his horse through the plain that lies below the city of Assisi, he met a leper. This unforeseen encounter struck him with not a little horror. Recalling the plan of perfection he had already conceived in his mind, and remembering that he must first conquer himself if he wanted to become a knight of Christ, he dismounted from his horse and ran to kiss him. As the leper stretched out his hand as if to receive something, he gave him money with a kiss. Immediately mounting his horse, however, and turning all around, even though the open plain stretched clear in all directions, he could not see the leper anywhere. He began, therefore, filled with wonder and joy, to sing praises to the Lord, while proposing, because of this, to embark always on the greater… 

From then on he clothed himself with a spirit of poverty, a sense of humility, and an eagerness for intimate piety. For previously not only had association with lepers horrified him greatly, so too did even gazing upon them from a distance. But, now because of Christ crucified, who according to the text of the prophet appeared “despised as a leper” (Is 53:3), he, in order to despise himself completely, showed deeds of humility and humanity to lepers with a gentle piety. He visited their houses frequently, generously distributed alms to them, and with a great drive of compassion kissed their hands and their mouths. To poor beggars he even wished to give not only his possessions but his very self, sometimes taking off his clothes, at others altering them, at yet others, when he had nothing else at hand, ripping them in pieces to give to them. 

With religious devotion he visited at this time the shrine of the Apostle Peter. When he saw a large number of the poor before the entrance of the church, led partly by the gentleness of his piety, encouraged partly by the love of poverty, he gave his own clothes to the of the neediest among them. Dressed in his rags, he spent that day in the midst of the poor with an unaccustomed joy of spirit.