Once upon a time there was a man who fell in love with God
His love was so radical, so real, that it changed him and everyone around him.
Love can do that !
He went from the child of privilege
To a man dedicated to the poor and the outcast
To a man not afraid of suffering
To a man enamored with creation so much so that he called the sun his brother, the moon his sister, and the earth his mother.
To a man who stopped worrying about so many things and was filled with the peace that only God can give.
His name was Francis of Assisi or St. Francis
Francis’ love affair with God grew slowly like any love.
It was born out of defeat he was a failed soldier who was captured during his first battle.
It was born out of suffering and illness because of his long imprisonment
It was born out of loneliness and confusion
He worried so much about what he was supposed to do with this life
All of these things and more drove him to solitude and prayer and that’s where he met God. (Sometimes we think that
Slowly but surely Francis of Assisi dared to trust God
One day while at prayer in the abandoned church which of San Damiano which was literally falling down Francis was meditating on the cross that still hung in the sanctuary when all of a sudden the face to the cross moved and spoke to him.
It said “Francis rebuild my church”
Looking around at the church he immediately set out to literally rebuild that little church with Joy
He finally knew what God needed him to do
He sold everything he had to accomplish the task and slowly but surely other young men came to help.
They were intrigued by the changes they saw in their friend.
They were amazed at his dedication to his project.
The Church in Francis’ time was very worldly
It was made up of the privileged and the noble
It was very concerned about it’s power and wealth and influence
It was always in competition with the emerging civil governments.
The people the normal people were marginalized and pushed aside to the fringes of the Church.
Quite often there was literally no place for them in church on Sundays.
Many times the poor were forced to stand outside and listen through a window or door.
The Church was far from what it should be, and what God needed it to be.
So many people and even the clergy were inspired by the poor men of Assisi and their leader Francis.
This little group of men became a reform movement which was a catalyst of change
The church became more responsive to the poor, the clergy became less concerned about their place of privilege and more concerned about their service to God’s poor.
Francis the man who fell in love with God did indeed rebuild the Church not just the little Church of San Damiano but the whole Church.
And he did it by his humble example.
Now it should become clear why Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name Francis. He knew well the story of St. Francis and he knew the Church needed to change.
St. Francis rebuilt the church
Some 800 years later Pope Francis is trying to do the same.
Some agree with his method and some don’t.
All of this begs the question
What are we doing to rebuild the church?
What are each of us doing?
What are we going to do to build up our parish?
Yes we are in a far better situation than many.
However the gospel needs to be preached, a whole younger generation has to be called home.
Just managing the facilities in a parish like ours is almost a full time job.
There are senior citizen who are all alone.
There are confirmation students who disappear as if confirmation is graduation.
The list goes on and on and on. I carry it in my heart everyday.
None of us can say… I’ve done my share.
I’ve put my envelop in the collection.
I’ve gone to mass.
None of us can say I’m too busy. as if we’ll get involved as long as we have nothing else to at all to do.
Let us all meditate on the life of St. Francis.
Let us ask God what he needs us to do.
Let us resolve answer his call.
Everyone is needed no one is expendable.
As Jesus asked Francis of Assisi he asks us… Rebuild his Church let us answer his call.