Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, religious
(Job 19:21-27; Luke 10:1-12)
No one wonders why the popes have called religious leaders to pray for peace in Assisi. The patron of that charming Italian town is a universal saint. The stories written about him for almost eight hundred years charm the most Christian-suspicious heart. How he called the sun his brother and how he tamed the wolf have won the world to his side. Recently, however, a well-credentialed Catholic biographer has written a biography with a different take on the man.
Augustine Thompson is a Dominican priest and medieval scholar. He has published a book on Francis’ life that leaves out the charming but unhistorical stories. Rather Fr. Thompson highlights a man whose poverty stems from the Eucharistic meditation of the Word of God emptying himself of divinity to be broken and shared by many. The author shows Francis tormented by the challenges of leadership while all the time wanting to be nothing more than the salt of the earth.
So Francis still inspires us. He may no longer move us to try to befriend ferocious animals, but he makes us to think about Christ’s presence in our midst. We should no longer feel unlike Francis if we are not charismatic leaders. Rather we should all ask how we may be ourselves and as humble as a dandelion at the same time.