Throughout the history of the world, we see God’s intervention into human affairs wherever there is a need. In the Middle Ages, the world was going through a dark time, with many destructive forces unleashed. How did God respond to the cry of his people? He raised up an extraordinary saint.
St. Francis was born in 1181. The famous author, G.K. Chesterton writes about the birth of St. Francis as the “morning star which dispels the darkness of Middle Ages”.
Francis was the first son of a rich man, enjoying the pleasures of the world as a teenager. But he was soon confronted with a critical question – should he serve the world or God? He knew he couldn’t serve both. Personal experiences of war and illness actually assisted him to recognise the passing nature of earthly treasures. He wanted treasure that endures for eternity.
It was while sitting in the broken-down chapel of San Damiano that he heard the words of Jesus telling him ‘rebuild my church’. Thinking he was simply being asked to repair the chapel building, he did just that. But soon he came to realise that the message was a call to renew the Church.
But how could a little monk assist the Lord in the renewal of the Church?
Through intense prayer, Francis discerned that he was being called to a profound simplicity of life, and radical poverty. Embracing these beautiful gifts, Francis discovered a freedom that he couldn’t find elsewhere.
In a world that seems to get so complicated and where generating and holding on to riches is presented as the number one priority, we’re grateful for our friendship with this little saint who changed his life, the Church and the world – all by being radically faithful to Jesus.
Let’s do the same.
Father Simon Eccleton