Often when people talk about St Francis, they only speak of him as being the friend to animals. This bugs me a little as he is so much more than this. He was a man who gave up everything the world said was important, to follow the will of Jesus. Yes; he was pretty radical. God asked him to rebuild the Church, and at first, he thought this involved rebuilding an actual building. His call was so much more than this. St Francis’ example led many people to Jesus and there was a amazing renewal in the Church.
With the Bishop’s plan it would be easy to focus on rebuilding of the buildings. But his plan is so much more, and in fact it is very similar to the call of St Francis. We are being called to rebuild our Church. Our Bishop wants our parishes to be a place of welcome and a place where people will meet Jesus. Just like St Francis, we are being called to not just sit in the pews on Sunday. Just like St Francis, we are being called to seek Jesus in everything. We are asked to speak of God’s love for all people, to those around us. This will make us uncomfortable at times.
St Francis heard the voice of Jesus and responded. We too can hear his voice, but we have to be listening, be open to hearing, reading the scriptures and sitting in the quiet of the Blessed Sacrament. This is called prayer. When we know Jesus, we are more confident in sharing what he has done for us with others.
My dad is pretty passionate at the best of times. This week he has been passionately sharing that he believes when we die; we will be judged on all the times we had the opportunity to share Jesus with others, and the times we recognised him in the poor. This has been a good reflection for me; have I taken St Francis’ example and shared Jesus with all whom I meet?
This Feast of St Francis let’s make a commitment to hearing God’s call for us, and to sharing Jesus with those around us, as St Francis of Assisi did.
Clare Bell – Parish Pastoral Worker