Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday praised the intellectual legacy of the 13th century Franciscan St. Bonaventure who popularized St. Paul’s belief in the “centrality of Christ” in human history.
“All of history is centered on Christ, who guarantees novelty and renewal in every age,” the Pope said in his Sunday Angelus address July 15.
“In Jesus, God has spoken and given everything, but because he is an inexhaustible treasure, the Holy Spirit never ceases to reveal and actualize his mystery. Therefore, the work of Christ and the Church never regresses, but always progresses.”
Pope Benedict explained to enthusiastic pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo that July 15 is the memorial of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio in the Church’s liturgical calendar. He said the Doctor of the Church was not only the successor of St. Francis of Assisi as head of the Franciscan order, he was also St. Francis’ first biographer.
Later in life, said the Pope, St. Bonaventure had recalled that the reason he loved St. Francis so much was that his life was “similar to the origin and growth of the Church” when Christ had sent out his twelve Apostles “two by two” instructing them “to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts.”
This happened to be the Gospel reading for today, a fact not lost on Pope Benedict.
“The whole life of St. Bonaventure as well as his theology has Jesus Christ as their core inspiration,” said the Pope.
This theme of the “centrality of Christ” is also found in today’s second reading at Mass in St. Paul’s “famous hymn” to the Church in Ephesus. In the reading, the Apostle Paul outlines how all human history is ultimately “in him” with “him,” meaning Jesus Christ.
Pope Benedict further examined the hymn.
“‘In him’ the Father chose us before the foundation of the world ‘in him’ we have redemption through his blood, ‘in him’ we have become heirs predestined to be ‘the praise of his glory’; ‘in Him’ those who believe in the Gospel receive the seal of the Holy Spirit,” said the Pope.
It is also this hymn that “contains the Pauline view of history that St. Bonaventure has helped to spread in the Church,” he said.
Pope Benedict concluded by invoking the help of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose feast is celebrated tomorrow. He asked that everybody may follow the example of St. Francis and St. Bonaventure and “respond generously to God’s call to proclaim his Gospel of salvation with our words and above all with our lives.”