At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As with many saints, St. Francis of Assisi runs the risk of being reduced to a one dimensional trope, as exemplified in a conversation between my daughters. We were talking about St. Francis and my 7-year-old said, “St. Francis cared for the poor.” Outraged, my 5-year-old replied, “No, he loved animals and cared for God’s creation.” While pleased that they had been paying attention in school, it made me realize how simplified the lives of holy men and women often are.
When we think about the saints, we can easily put them up on pedestals that make their actions seem unattainable for us. In some ways, this almost gives us permission to not emulate them, because it seems beyond the scope of possibility. But the saints, like each of us, is called to follow Christ in the complex reality of our lives. We do not have to be perfect before entering into a relationship with God, because God meets us where we are. St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola are just two of countless examples of people who began life in one way, had an encounter with God, and chose to respond to God’s invitation.
How can we, like the saints, respond to God’s call in our own complex lives?
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
—Peace Prayer of St. Francis of AssisiPlease share the Good Word with your friends!