Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
During this month of October the lives of many religious founders are celebrated; today’s special scripture selections for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi help us celebrate with our worldwide Franciscan sisters and brothers – and help us acknowledge the Franciscan "roots" of our Passionist family and our 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. Saint Matthew’s gospel selection shares the priestly prayer of Jesus — praising the Father, and inviting one and all to leave everything, come to Him and be refreshed and enlightened. Saint 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; some six centuries later, St. Paul of the Cross was called to build upon that blessed spiritual 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. That’s a special message for our 21st century!
The Scriptures came alive for Francis of Assisi. His carefree youth was radically changed by the call of Jesus; he 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; soon others were attracted to his lifestyle. 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 over the centuries.
Today, Francis invites us to reflect: how do I respect God’s presence in people, nature, created things? How do I reflect simplicity and humility in my life? How do I help 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 God’s life in all its manifestations. We pray: O Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Brother Francis, Paul Daneo: together we rejoice in the Lord and boast in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.