St. Francis of Assisi has influenced Christians – and others – around the world
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4, 2021): JON 1:1 – 2:1-2,11; JON 2:3,4,5,8; LK 10:25-37
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.
Francis embraced a life of poverty and acts of charity, trying to do and to be all that Christ had preached and lived.
St. Francis of Assisi is possibly the most widely venerated saint of all times. As a wealthy and popular young man, he certainly gave little hint of the religious conversion he would experience after his efforts as a knight in battle led to imprisonment and sickness. On his release, he started to grow more concerned with spiritual matters. Francis embraced a life of poverty and acts of charity, trying to do and to be all that Christ had preached and lived. In the Gospel for today, we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told when a man asked him, “Who is my neighbor?” At the end of this wonderful expression of mercy for a stranger – and one who some would consider an enemy – our Lord asks him: “‘Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ He answered. ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do likewise’” (Luke 10: 36-37). Surely, this is exactly what St. Francis did in recognizing everyone, especially those in greatest need, as his neighbor. Indeed, he treated them with the loving reverence that he would offer Christ.
The good and humble St. Francis drew followers who also longed to emulate the way of Christ. In time, he founded three orders: his own Order of Friars Minor, a second order of cloistered nuns, now named for their cofounder, St. Clare of Assisi, and a third secular order for laity and clergy who continued their regular vocation. Francis tried to be a missionary, but illness prevented him. Instead, he touched the lives of thousands and, eventually, millions in sharing his unselfish love of our Savior. On his deathbed, in 1226, this was his last prayer: “I cry out to You, Lord, I say, You are my refuge. … Lead me out of my prison, that I may give thanks to Your name. Then the just shall gather around me because You have been good to me” (Psalm 142: 6,8). He died, at his request, naked on God’s good earth. We now honor St. Francis of Assisi as patron of ecology and animals.
Suggested missionary action: We can ask St. Francis to help us see all people as God’s beloved children, and to guide us in reaching out to all, particularly those in need of our care and attention.