This week’s readings for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time include fascinating stories on hypocrisy, sin, repenting and forgiveness. The first reading is an excerpt from the famous story of King David and his adultery with Bathsheba. The Gospel includes a story only found in Luke where a “sinful woman” who crashed a dinner where a Pharisee was hosting Jesus. The focus on these two readings are that (i) God will forgive any sin as long as we repent and (ii) actions speak louder than words.
For today’s reflection, I would like to go back to Thursday of this week, which was the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony was born 1195 and initially joined the Cannons Regular Order of priests. At the age of twenty-five, Anthony’s life took an exciting turn. He met some Franciscans and was impressed by their simple, evangelical lifestyle. Anthony received permission to transfer from the Cannons Order to the Franciscan Order, which was very new. St. Anthony eventually developed an outstanding reputation for his preaching ability and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
This week’s reflection is a sermon by St. Anthony of Padua from the Office of the Readings for the Feast of St. Anthony:
From a sermon by Saint Anthony of Padua, priest
Actions speak louder than words
“The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: “A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches.” It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.
But the apostles spoke as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech. Happy the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself! For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim the credit for them. The Lord refers to such men and others like them in Jeremiah: So, then, I have a quarrel with the prophets that steal my words from each other. I have a quarrel with the prophets, says the Lord, who have only to move their tongues to utter oracles. I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, who recount them and lead my people astray with their lies and their pretensions. I certainly never sent them or commissioned them, and they serve no good purpose for this people, says the Lord.
We should speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the faith, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendor of the saints and to look upon the triune God.”