The First Reading tells us God raised Assyria to invade Israel so Israel can turn back to the Lord. However, he only allowed Assyria to spoil and plunder Israel. Instead Assyria had other plans: to destroy and cut off nations. Assyria went beyond what God allowed it to do. Which is why God asks: Shall the axe vaunt itself over the one who wields it? Assyria grew proud and did what it wanted to do. Which is why in the end, it will also be destroyed because of its pride. Contrast this with what Jesus said: all things have been handed to me by my Father and no one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Jesus, despite being God, did not boast about his divinity. Instead, he allowed the Father to give him everything. Jesus does only what the Father wants him to do. Jesus knows where he stands before the Father: that he is the Son and God is the Father.
Those who are wise in their own mind, will not accept God. With the success they have, they believe they do not need God. So they reject God and do what they want. They do this because they do not know where they stand before God. This arrogance brings downfall to the person. This happens not because God is punishing them, but their arrogance makes them move away from what God has planned for them. The Psalm captures the thought of the proud. They think: The Lord does not see: the God of Jacob does not perceive. God’s response is this: understand, O dullest of the people, fools, when will you be wise. Wisdom is not achieved in learning. It comes from the fear of the Lord and it understands that God is God. It is seeing things through the eyes of God and God sees he is God and we are not.
St Bonaventure was a Franciscan who lived in the 13th century. He was elected as the Minister General of the Franciscan order, which at that time had an internal conflict on how to interpret poverty. One faction wanted a literal interpretation while the other wanted its own interpretation. Bonaventure resolved this issue through prudent use of his authority to unite the Order. He was named a cardinal by Pope Gregory X because of his ability to reconcile opposing views. At the Council of Lyon, Bonaventure had a hand in reuniting the Greek Church with the Church in Rome. He died during the Council. He is a doctor of the Church, meaning, his writings are worth studying because he is a Teacher of the Church.
Bonaventure was able to govern wisely, because he knew where he stood before God. Despite the position and authority he had in the Church, he remained grounded in God.
The Readings today ask us: where do I see myself compared to God? Do I seek his will or am I so successful that I can just do whatever I want?
Lord, let me see you as you are. Let me see myself as I am before you. Remind me, I am a creature and you are God. Never let me forget you are my Lord and Master and I am your servant. Help me to be faithful to you and submit to your will. St Bonaventure, pray for us, that we may know God.