Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
As the month of October continues to unfold and the lives of many religious founders are shared with us, today’s special scripture selections for the Feast of St. Francis help us recognize and celebrate the Franciscan "roots" of our Passionist family, and our Holy Founder, St. Paul of the Cross.
In writing to the Galatians, Paul the Apostle could truly "boast" in Jesus Crucified and look to the Cross of Jesus as the means of salvation. Matthew today relates the priestly prayer of Jesus, praising the Father, and inviting one and all to leave everything, come to Him and be refreshed and enlightened. St. Francis of Assisi heard that call of Jesus in the 12th Century, gave himself wholeheartedly to Jesus and began an exemplary life of praise and sacrifice; then some 6 centuries later, St. Paul of the Cross was called to build upon that blessed foundation.
To "boast" of Jesus Crucified; to praise God in all aspects of creation; to "rest" in the Lord and "learn" what it means to really love God and neighbor: Jesus offers a transformation of life through joyful love, poverty, humility, and simplicity. How needed that transformation in our 21st century, with today’s experience of short-sightedness, selfishness, suffering and individualism!
The Scriptures came alive for Francis of Assisi. His carefree youth was changed by the call of Jesus, and he thus renounced his personal possessions and changed his life to one of evangelical poverty and preaching. Francis was truly charismatic, compassionate, and in love with all God’s creation; others were attracted to his style of living, and Francis was blessed to compile a "rule of life" and establish a number of religious communities of both men and women. In the short 44 years of his life, he sparked a spiritual renewal that continues to thrive even today.
Today, in reflection: how do I respect God’s presence in people, nature, created things? How are simplicity and humility part of my life? How am helping build up the Church?
Francis invites us to join him today in "boasting in Jesus Crucified", and praising God in our simplicity and respect for all manifestations of God’s Life. O Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Brother Francis, Paul Daneo: let us rejoice in the Lord, and as Passionists boast of the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.