Yes, October 4th, the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. It is a very important day for me since I bear the name Francis and was named in memory of the saint from Assisi. We blessed the animals here at the Abbey last Saturday, but it was celebrating Mass today and reciting the Office of Readings for the memorial feast that real brought home to me the significance of Francis of Assisi for all consecrated Religious and all peoples.
As a young man, it is known that he led a rather irresolute life; but after a conversion experience, he became such a close follower of Jesus that he was given the gift of the Stigmata: bearing in his body the wounds of Christ. This conversion experience is so similar to Paul’s story in the first reading from today’s liturgy: how he gave up his former ways to become the herald of the good news, much like Mary in today’s Gospel, who sat at Jesus’ feet and just listened to His words of life. Francis himself listened to the words of Jesus and found life living the poverty and humility of a God who emptied himself of His Godhead and took on the form of his own creation, living in poverty and humility, using this poverty and humility to change the world.
Pope Francis, who took his name after today’s saint, also calls on us as religious to “wake up the world”, living simply and humbly in respect for and in cooperation with each other and with all of God’s Creation. To be poor and humble affords us all to see beyond the “bling” of this world in order to live the happiness of being redeemed and justified by Christ. I am drawn to Francis’ words of exhortation, calling us to live humbly and in example of the poor man from Nazareth who changed the world by waking it to the love and compassion of a merciful God.
I thank God for my vocation and the opportunities it gives me to spread the Good News of Jesus, ever mindful that Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of God is theirs. May we all realize that this is the vocation of all of us who commit ourselves to following the Way of the Lord: in humility, in poverty of spirit, and in imitation of Francis who in giving all to the Lord, attained in his words TRUE happiness and love.