Blessed Luke Belludi (1200-c. 1285)
In 1220, St. Anthony was preaching conversion to the inhabitants of Padua when a young nobleman, Luke Belludi, came up to him and humbly asked to receive the habit of the followers of St. Francis. Anthony liked the talented, well-educated Luke and personally recommended him to St. Francis, who then received him into the Franciscan Order. Luke, then only 20, was to be Anthony's companion in his travels and in his preaching, tending to him in his last days and taking Anthony's place upon his death. He was appointed guardian of the Friars Minor in the city of Padua. In 1239 the city fell into the hands of its enemies. Nobles were put to death, the mayor and council were banished, the great university of Padua gradually closed and the church dedicated to St. Anthony was left unfinished. Luke himself was expelled from the city but secretly returned. At night he and the new guardian would visit the tomb of St. Anthony in the unfinished shrine to pray for his help. One night a voice came from the tomb assuring them that the city would soon be delivered from its evil tyrant. After the fulfilment of the prophetic message, Luke was elected provincial minister and furthered the completion of the great basilica in honour of Anthony, his teacher. He founded many convents of the order and had, as Anthony, the gift of miracles. Upon his death he was laid to rest in the basilica that he had helped finish and has had a continual veneration up to the present time.
The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke (11.29~32)
As the crowds increased, Jesus said, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here."
The heart of man
(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)
In our Gospel passage today our Lord makes a sombre observation. “This is a wicked generation,” he said. “It asks for a miraculous sign.” The context of this is provided earlier in the chapter, and it follows our Lord’s teaching to his disciples on prayer (Luke 11: 1-13). We read that “he had just cast out a devil which was dumb,” and there is a somewhat mixed response among the crowds. While “the multitudes were filled with amazement,” nevertheless “some of them said, It is through Beelzebub, the prince of devils, that he casts the devils out, while others, to put him to the test, would have him show a sign from heaven” (Luke 11: 14-16). So within this general amazement, there was a significant element who refused faith in our Lord, some attributing to him demonic association, others requiring of him further signs — this time from heaven. Our Lord could “read their thoughts” (11:17), and he proceeded to deal with these reactions, firstly with the question of the devils, and secondly with the request for heavenly signs. Our passage today (Luke 11: 29-32) is Christ’s comment on those who demanded more evidence than he chose to give. Inasmuch as our Lord speaks of “this generation” asking for “a sign” this would seem to have been a general tendency. That is to say, the tendency among the multitudes was to require more signs from heaven from our Lord, and we remember that as our Lord’s public ministry extended in time he withdrew more and more from working multitudes of miracles. We read that he increasingly required of those he healed that they not broadcast the fact, and he withdrew to places of retreat but despite this his miracles were noised abroad. It seems the miracles were not leading to faith, but simply to the demand for more miracles — signs from heaven. A supreme instance of this was Herod himself, who was delighted to meet our Lord at his Passion because he wanted to see a miracle worked. Our Lord’s response to this clamour for miracles was devastating: it was due to wickedness. He refused even to speak to Herod.
So as the multitude increased around him he told them that the demand for “signs” was due to moral fault. It was due to a wicked heart that refused faith when faith was clearly due. Our Lord pointed to examples from Scripture of faith in pagans, gentiles, who responded in faith to God’s gifts present in his representatives, who were far inferior to him. “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here” (Luke 11: 29-32). The Queen of the South was a gentile, a pagan, but she responded to the God-given wisdom of Solomon, and came from “the ends of the earth” to learn from it. She did not ask for further signs from heaven. The “men of Nineveh” were notoriously pagans, gentiles, but at the mere preaching of Jonah they repented in sackcloth and ashes and their great city was spared. They did not demand further signs from heaven, but recognized that the message of Jonah came from God. All of this was due to their good hearts. Their heart was such that they — the Queen of the south and the men of Nineveh — immediately received with faith the word of the one to whom they were listening. A good heart is enough to discern the heavenly origin of the teaching of Jesus Christ, for in him a greater than Solomon and Jonah is present. All this is to say that, as our Lord expresses it in one of his parables, the seed must fall in good soil if it is to produce the harvest of which it is capable. If the heart is wicked, signs from heaven will be of no use. In another of our Lord’s parables, Abraham says of the brothers of the rich man buried in Hell, that even if someone should rise from the dead, it would make no difference to them, because of the state of their hearts.
God is all-powerful. He can do anything, and he does do marvellous things even if they are often unseen. As our Lord says elsewhere, all things are possible for God. But God’s saving plan depends on our willingness to accept him and his will. It depends on the state of our hearts. We must be properly disposed for his word. Let us place our faith in Christ the Redeemer of man, entrusting our minds and hearts to the care of his grace, asking that he mould us in his likeness. Let us not place conditions on God, but accept his will knowing that in his will lies our salvation.