Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, religious
(Baruch 1:15-22; Luke 10:13-16)
One of the reasons that St. Francis of Assisi has been so popular through the centuries is that he is seen as a romantic. It is said that Francis separated himself from his money-driven father by taking off his fine clothes and giving them back to his appalled father in the public square. Even more charming is the story of his taming a vicious wolf by appealing to the wolf’s reason: if the wolf would stop ravaging the town, the townspeople would feed it every day. The difficulty with such stories is that they are not always accurate.
A recent biography by a hard-nosed but still admiring historian dismisses a large amount of the legend surrounding Francis. What he finds is a man like the rest of us groping to God through a troubled situation. But Francis, of course, reached his object without the pains of purgatory. Perhaps it was devotion to Christ that gave him the critical edge. Francis loved the Lord because Jesus truly impoverishes himself not just in the incarnation and on the cross but in the Eucharist where he makes himself food for human edification.
We do well to emulate Francis of Assisi. We need not go barefoot or eschew swatting flies. But we should carefully contemplate the mystery that confronts us at Mass. It is Jesus under the guise of bread and wine who calls us to humble ourselves so that we might strengthen others.