Sunday, October 01, 2006

Francesco di Bernardone 1182 - 1228

He is one of the heroes of my faith. A man who voluntarily chose to challenge the prevailing culture of the day, and has left an indelible mark on history. Today is the feast day of Francis of Assisi, who was instrumental in founding the monastic Orders of the Poor Clares and the Friars Minor.

He gathered a group of people around him who were committed to a life of apostolic poverty. This meant letting go of the need for possessions, choosing to share the gospel of Jesus from the perspective of the poor, and emphasising the love of God for all of creation. Everyone was a brother/sister, and all of creation was to be treasured. Francis challenged his culture’s obsession with clothing as a sign of status, and possessions as a sign of achievement. And Francis brought a compassion for the poor, the forgotten and the ignored.

Francis had his blindnesses: he was anti-Muslim and pro-Crusades. In 1219 he helped the Crusaders capture Muslim-held Damietta in the Holy land. The man who created the great prayer for peace was unable to see his part in creating violence! What makes him my hero is this blend of both greatness and fallibility. Greatness is not about being perfect. Greatness is the ability to keep the vision alive – despite the personal flaws.

A man like Francis gives me hope that I might be able to hold to a Godly vision despite my personal flaws. Please pray for me.

1 comment:

Wessel Bentley said...

I am sure that St. Francis was aware that God cannot be confined to Confession or Creed. In him, I find a delicate balance between accepting the Church as the "voice" of God while at the same time being a blasphemer. Do you agree? He was almost a Reformer.