Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi
Radical Love of all God’s Creation
Today Scriptures highlight God’s call to love all people, all creation – even “despised pagans” (1st) and the person on the sidewalk or roadside or those who may seem “different” (Gospel).
The Book of Jonah encourages pondering how God “helped” Jonah to respond to his call to preach repentance to the Ninevites. A rough sea voyage and being swallowed by a large fish moved Jonah to prayer and change of heart– and then prophetic action!
The Gospel selection from Luke 10 relays the powerful parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus points out that all people are our neighbors, and we are to follow Jesus’ example in freely giving of ourselves to reach out to others, especially those in need of healing of mind or body.
Today’s we celebrate the life of St. Francis of Assisi who reached out in love to all of God’s creation. The witness of his life helped renew the Church of the 12th Century and set in motion his charism (spirit) that over centuries has motivated thousands to lives of praise, sacrifice, and service.
The Scriptures came alive for Francis of Assisi. His carefree youth was radically changed by Jesus’ call; he renounced his personal possessions and redirected his life to evangelical poverty and preaching. Francis’ life was charismatic, compassionate, and loving. God used Francis to call others to radical discipleship; Francis thus compiled a “rule of life” and founded numerous religious communities of women and men. He lived to age 44, sharing call of Jesus to reach out to and serve those in need. He serves as a prime example for Pope Francis! Yes, “…Rebuild my church…”
Today Jesus and Francis of Assisi challenge us to generously build up all of God’s Kingdom. We are challenged by illness, violence, selfishness, poverty and hunger, hopelessness, injustice, etc. – all of which call out to us as did the injured victim on the road to Jericho in today’s Gospel. As faith-filled disciples love for all creation is to be the heart of our lives, clothed in a simplicity and humility which characterized the life of St. Francis…our 21st Century challenge!
The Collect Prayer of today’s Eucharist for the Feast of St. Francis: “…Saint Francis was conformed to Christ in poverty and humility; grant that, by walking in Francis’ footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity come to be united with you….” As the prayer attributed to St. Francis states, may we be channels of God’s peace!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the Vocation Director for Holy Cross Province. He lives at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.