Tuesday, January 17, 2012

St Anthony of Egypt

"The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him." 1 Sam 16:13

Regularly in the scriptures God does not do what we expect God to do. The choice of David as King is a good example. After rejecting Saul as King, God tells Samuel that he will choose a King from Jesse's sons, but after Jesse has presented seven of his Sons to Samuel, all of whom seemed worthy by Jesse's standards, God is not satisfied. Samuel ask Jesse if he has another son. Yes, Jesse says, and sends for his youngest son David. When David appears God tells Samuel that this is the one and when Samuel anoints David, "the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him."

Something similar happened to St Anthony of Egypt whose feast we celebrate today. Like St. Francis of Assisi, to whom he is often compared, Anthony heard God call him in the gospel passage, "Go sell all you have and come follow me." Anthony complied immediately and fled to the desert to live a life of austerity, penance and prayer. But, just like Francis, Anthony got it wrong, and God called him back to his society so that he could help others find God in a society gone mad with wealth, power and lust.

Most of us have known the rushing of God's spirit upon us, at least for a time, but we don't always respond as completely as David, St. Anthony and St. Francis. Fearful that a call as radical as this might disrupt our lives and everyone around us, we resist. Today's feast reminds us not to be afraid. It is God's spirit that rushes upon us. We have only to rely on God to do the work of God. When we ask for the grace to put aside our fear, as David, Anthony and Francis did, all things become possible.

Today, trust God's rushing spirit.

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