In Christ’s life, St. Francis found his own; in Christ’s love for him and all people, Francis found life everlasting
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4, 2019): GAL 6:14-18; PS 16:1-2,5,7-8,11; MT 11:25-30
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days
St. Francis of Assisi knew what it was like to have his whole life transformed.
Born Giovanni de Pietro di Bernardone in 1182, he went from being a pampered son of a rich family and the frivolous leader of the city’s young people to penitent preacher. After experiencing war, confinement, and sickness, he began to take things seriously. Not content with making minor changes in his life, Francis understood that God was calling him to give up the past and travel a new way. He determined to model himself as fully as he could on the life of our Redeemer. He gave away all he had; he embraced a leper; he begged for what little he needed. And when Francis heard God tell him to rebuild His church, that’s exactly what Francis did. He started by reconstructing the tumbled-down church of St. Damiano, stone by stone, and went on to revitalize the Catholic Church itself. Francis loved “Lady Poverty.” He prayed humbly and performed penance cheerfully in order to become ever more like Christ.
Like St. Paul in today’s readings, St. Francis could have said, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.… From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body” (Galatians 6:14, 17). Francis’s strict adherence to Gospel truth and to love for all God’s children and creatures appealed to many who wanted to serve Him with their whole being. He attracted men and then women to become part of what we now know as Franciscan religious orders. To encourage greater devotion to Jesus, Francis is credited with making the earliest nativity scenes or crèches. In 1224, he received the stigmata, the wounds of Christ on his hands and feet, associating him ever more closely with his Savior. He died two years later and was soon canonized. St. Francis of Assisi is now honored as patron of animals and of ecology.
Suggested missionary action: Let us ask St. Francis of Assisi to help us do one new thing each day to assist someone who is in need or in pain. Let us ask him to help us imitate him in following Christ with our whole heart.