Today we celebrate the feast day of one of my favorite saints – Saint Francis of Assisi. If anyone lived a Christ-like life it was Saint Francis. His goal in life was to live out the Gospel with these three passages in mind:
- “Jesus said to him, ‘if you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me’” (Matt 19:21).
- “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’” (Matt 16:24).
- “He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, not food, nor money, nor let no one take a second tunic’” (Luke 9:3).
Saint Francis – A Man after God’s Own Heart
What do these three passages have in common? They each share a disregard for earthly comforts, wanting only God. Saint Francis of Assisi found joy in humility, strength in meekness, and freedom in his slavery to Christ. He gave his all, in service to Christ. He lived the Gospel, by example of his witness to the love of Christ. To this day, Francis’ simplistic approach to serving Christ is appealing. Saint Francis of Assisi epitomized Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor.
He liked being around people most of the time. However, he understood the need for times of silence, solitude and stillness. In living the Gospel, he recognized that Christ would go to pray alone before making important decisions. Francis would do the same, for he found it to be a way to recharge his batteries before taking a big step in his life. He understood the value of prayer – conversation with God; including God in one’s major life decisions. Yet, Francis also saw the need for serving the needs of others. Therefore, he balanced his time between service and solitude.
A Favorite Saint to Many
I think the reason why Saint Francis of Assisi is one of my favorite saints is because of his strong desire to live a Christ-like life – literally! To accomplish that, it required great virtue. Jesus is, par excellence, the most virtuous man that ever lived. But, I would say that Saint Francis of Assisi comes in third place (right behind the Blessed Virgin). Maybe that is why he is so beloved. People are naturally drawn to virtue that they see in others, because virtue is goodness. Innately, we are all drawn to goodness, because God is the Supreme Good. Any virtue that we see emanating from another person is because of the grace of God. So, as I see it, Saint Francis of Assisi radiated virtue, thereby radiating the grace of God. How awesome is that!
Saint Francis of Assisi, please pray for us. Pray that we each receive grace from God; that virtue may radiate from each of us. We ask for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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