Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St. Francis, what does that have to do with me?!?

As I have watched the news coverage on the election and installation of the new Pope, I began by thinking, "very interesting, but as a Protestant, not particularly relevant to me."  Then Bergoglio took the name Francis.  Having taught about Francis of Assisi, I was familiar with how significant the choice of that name is.

Saint Francis lived in the 11th century.  He was born to a very affluent family but decided to renounce his wealth and position to take on the cause of Christ for the poor.  He became poor himself and relied exclusively on God to provide for his needs.

More than almost any person in history, Francis took on the ministry of Christ.  He ministered to the poor, he cared for creation (animals, environment), he sought peace with enemies, and he looked to unify and not divide.  What is his legacy? What difference did it make to be like Jesus?   Catholic and non-denominational orders of Francis have ministered to countless people over the centuries.  The church has been reminded to care for creation.  During the Muslim rule of the Holy Lands, the Franciscans were not killed or driven out but given property to maintain their order alongside the Muslims.  Although never ordained nor an official in the Catholic church, he is recognized as one of the most influential parts of the Catholic church.

So what?  What does this mean to me?  St. Francis and Pope Francis realized that Jesus calls us to serve others and in that service the world sees the love of Christ.  Is there something we can do in our lives to be more like Jesus to others?  Is there something I can do to help the poor (Brent Jones can help out with this)?  Can I pay more attention to how I interact with creation (not wasteful, greedy, careless)?  Do I love my enemies (irritating coworkers, atheist neighbors, democrats, republicans, homosexuals)? Do I try to find similarities with other believers or do I look for differences?

Trying to take it on all at once is a daunting task -- and who has the time?  Is there one area that you could focus on?  The poor, creation, loving enemies, being a peace maker.  I have chosen one and will be working on it.  To God be the glory!

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen

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