Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, Rel., (4th October, 2018) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Ps 26:7-9.13-14. (R. v.13);
Saint Francis was born at Assisi in 1181. His mother christened him Giovanni after John the Baptist but his father renamed him Francesco because he never wanted any man of God in his son. He enjoyed a very rich easy life growing up because of his father's wealth and the permissiveness of the times. Francis led a crowd of young people who spent their nights in wild parties. He saw the call for knights for the Fourth Crusade as an opportunity to earn glory. However, he gave his suit of armour decorated with gold to a poor knight and obeyed God’s call to return home. He started to spend more time in prayer and Christ asked him to repair His Church that scandal and avarice were working on from the inside while outside heresies flourished while he was praying in the ancient church at San Damiano. He was ordained only a deacon under his protest. He preached about returning to God and obedience to the Church. Slowly companions came to him. He loved all God's creations and also preached to all. He tried to make poverty holy and saw possessions as the death of love. Francis' final years were filled with suffering as well as humiliation. He received the stigmata. He died on 4th October, 1226. Francis is considered the founder of all Franciscan orders and the patron saint of ecologists and merchants.
Topic: Instruments of Peace.
Jesus sent His disciples in today’s gospel to places He intended to go with these words, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’” (Lk 10:5). Why must ‘Peace to this house!’ be the first thing? They were sent to bring the unsearchable riches of Christ to the people (Eph 3:8); to preach Christ and not any other thing, cf. 2Cor 4:5.
Their mission is all about both vertical and horizontal peace. In the words of St. Paul, “he (Jesus) came and proclaimed peace to everybody” (Eph 2:17). Christ is our peace. He came and broke down the dividing wall of hostility among us and made us all one (Eph 2:14). But we keep building more walls. “Peace to this house!” is the summary of their message, the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15).
The peace we have in mind is True Peace which is of God, cf. 1Cor 1:3; 14:33; 2Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; 6:23. Hence Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). Although peace is of God, we must look for it. Borrowing the words of St. Paul, “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:19). Anyone who wants peace must go to God, the source. Being at peace with God and with others is a sign that God is with us for God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1Cor 14:33). Saint John cautions, “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1Jn 4:20). In the same vein, for one to be at peace with God, he/she must be at peace with others. St. Paul has this advice, “Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2Cor 13:11).
Christ brings peace to wherever He is welcomed. We must turn away from evil and do right and seek peace and pursue it (1Pt 3:11). Without peace and holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14). Every Christian is called to be an instrument of true peace.
Bible Reading: 1Jn 4:7-21; Gal 5:22-26.
Thought for today: Are you for peace or for war?
Let us pray with St Francis of Assisi:
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 seek not so much 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; in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life – Amen.
Saint Francis of Assisi – Pray for us.
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