Friday 3 October 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014 - St. Francis of Assisi

To read the texts click on the texts: Gal 6:14-18; Mt 11:25-30

At a time when we are struggling to cope with how to respond to environmental challenges, the feast of St. Francis Of Assisi (1181/1182 - 1226) comes as (literally) a breath of fresh air. St. Francis realised that the easiest way to see, feel and touch God was through all of God's creation. For him, the sun was a brother and the moon a sister. Animals and plants were friends who had to be nurtured and not feared.

In his response to creation, Francis went back to the origin as narrated in Genesis and God's command to the human race to live in harmony with the rest of creation (Gen 1:28-30).

This Gospel text chosen for the feast is addressed to all those who accept the message of Jesus unlike those in Chorazin and Bethsaida. Jesus begins his prayer here by giving thanks to the Father. It is openness to the revelation of God that Jesus makes which is responsible for the receipt of this enormous privilege. Acknowledging Jesus is not a matter of one’s superior knowledge or insight, but given as a gift to those who open themselves to this revelation. Jesus himself is an example of such openness, which allowed him to receive everything directly from God. It is his intimacy with the Father and not his religious genius, which is responsible for this grace.

Jesus invites all those who are burdened to come to him for rest. The burden in this context seems to be that of the law and its obligations. When Jesus invites the burdened to take his yoke, which is easy, he is not inviting them to a life of ease, but to a deliverance from any kind of artificiality or the blind following of rules and regulations. The disciple must learn from Jesus who is in Matthew “the great teacher”. The rest that Jesus offers is the rest of salvation.

We can get so caught up today with wanting to have more that we might lose sight of the meaning of life itself. The desire to acquire more and more and be regarded as successful based on what we possess sometimes leads to missing out on so much that life has to offer.

This then is the challenge that the feast of this extraordinary Saint offers us, namely that we learn to love and live with our environment. Today more than ever we need to go back to our origins and the response of St. Francis to creation if we are to save our world. It is indeed fitting that St. Francis is the patron of animals and environment.

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