It’s one thing to read about what God is like; it’s another thing altogether to experience who God is. In a nutshell, this message is at the heart of the teaching of the saint we honor today: St. Bonaventure.
Bonaventure was a Franciscan, not least because he was healed of a childhood illness through the personal intercession of St. Francis. Bonaventure would later write the famous Life of St. Francis, and he served as the Minister General of the Franciscan order.
Bonaventure was also a great scholar. Alongside his colleague St. Thomas Aquinas, he was a thirteenth century professor of Theology at the University of Paris. Because of his great scholarship, he is recognized today as a Doctor of the Church. On account of his virtue, he is celebrated today as a saint.
As he was both learned and holy, Bonaventure was well aware that knowing God is more important than knowing about him. He wrote, “…seek (your) answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research.”
The God whom Bonaventure calls us to seek is a God of love. Bonaventure speculates that even if humankind had never sinned, God would still have become one of us in Jesus, because God loves us so much that he always has wished to live among us as one of us. Nevertheless, Jesus had to die for our sins on the cross, which Bonaventure tells us to reflect upon “full of faith, hope, and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation.”
Bonaventure the scholar would never discourage us from seeking Jesus with our head. But Bonaventure the saint challenges us to seek Jesus, most of all, with our heart.