St. Francis of Assisi
Baruch offers a beautiful prayer of repentance to the Lord during the Babylonian exile. He is brutally honest about the situation of the people. From the time of the Exodus until the present day everyone, Kings, prophets, priests and all the people have gone after their our own way. Baruch says, ‘We have not heeded the voice of God nor obeyed his precepts and we have not listened to his words to us through the prophets.’ Moses had said to the people to choose life: blessings if they followed the Lord or curse if they departed from the Lord’s ways. Baruch says that, evils and the curse that the Lord enjoined upon Moses, his servant, at the time he led our ancestors forth from the land of Egypt to give us the land flowing with milk and honey, cling to us even today.
We find in Saint Luke’s Gospel that Jesus offers “blessings” (to the poor, the sorrowful, the hungry and the proud) that are followed by “woes” (warnings) to the greedy rich, the selfish full, those who laugh in the face of suffering and need, and to the proud. In today’ Gospel Jesus offers another “Woe” (warnig) to the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and, Capernaum for failing to repent at the signs and preaching of Jesus. Jesus says the gentile towns of Tyre and Sidon would have repented at his word. They’re in for a tough time. Jesus says that those who reject the word of God and the Gospel, reject him.
Like the prayer of Baruch, Jesus is giving a call to repentance and we can say that the life of Saint Francis of Assisi was a call to repentance. He is greatly venerated for his love of nature, animals and all of creation, although in the “Canticle of the Sun” he reminds us to worship the Creator and not creation. He encouraged us to live in the freedom and joy of the Gospel and he became an image of the Crucified Christ bearing the wounds of Christ. He embraced” Lady Poverty” and bore witness to the sacredness of the Eucharist.
When Francis heard the Lord say, “Francis rebuild my Church,” he thought the Lord was referring to a dilapidated chapel of San Damiano. Later it would be clear to him that the Lord wanted him to renew the people and life of the Church. This was the call to repentance for the entire Church. It was the call for Francis’ time and it’s our call today. Repent, rebuild the Church and live in the joy of the Gospel.
Fr. Patrick Daugherty, C.P.