Shane Hyland, the Leader of Evangelisation at St Joseph’s Regional College presents our Gospel reflections this week and today reads from the Gospel of Luke (10:1-11) in which Jesus says, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’ Afterwards Shane shares a little about the life of St Anthony of Padua, whose memorial we celebrate today.
Shane says he is sure he is not the only one that has someone in their life who tells them to pray to St Anthony when they lose their car keys! St Anthony is one of the most popular of the saints, not only is known as the patron saint of lost and stolen things, he is also remembered as a gifted Franciscan preacher and teacher.
Anthony was born in 1195 (13 years after St Francis) in Lisbon, Portugal and given the name of Fernando at Baptism. At the age of 15 he entered the religious order of St. Augustine. Then he began nine years of intense study and was probably ordained a priest during this time.
The reason for invoking St Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things can be traced back to an incident in his own life. Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. The was his personal psalter that had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order. A novice who had grown tired of living religious life decided to leave the community, he also decided to take Anthony’s psalter! When Anthony realised his psalter was missing, he prayed it would be found or returned to him.
And after his prayer, the thief was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and to return to the Order, which accepted him back.
The stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna. Shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles.
The reason that we hear this particular Gospel today is that St Francis is said to have heard this Gospel and said “This is what I wish; this is what I am seeking. This is what I want to do from the bottom of my heart,” and with that he removed his shoes, discarded his staff, put on a rough tunic and began preaching repentance and then founding the Franciscan order to which St Anthony belonged.
On the memorial of this most beloved saint, Shane invites us to pray ‘St Anthony Pray for us!’