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 in the public square. Even more charming is the story of his taming a vicious wolf by appealing to the wolf’s reason. He promised the wolf that if it would stop ravaging the town, the townspeople provide it every day. The difficulty with stories like this second one is that they are not always accurate.
A recent biography by a hard-nosed historian dismisses a large amount of the legend surrounding Francis. What he finds is a man like the rest of us groping to God in a troubled world. But Francis, of course, reached his object without the pains of purgatory. Perhaps it was a special devotion to Christ that gave him the critical edge. Francis loved the Lord because Jesus truly impoverished himself many times over. He became human and then died on the cross. Then he has fed his disciples with his own body in the Eucharist.
We do well to imitate 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.