Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Francis of Assisi

Francis lived in the 12th century and is known for his embracing of poverty. He wanted to stand alongside the marginalised and the vulnerable and demonstrate the love of God to them. I have just finished reading Murray Bodo's "The Way of St Francis" (Fount, 1984) which offers a reflective account of the way in which he embraced a practical spirituality. As Bodo points out: "For him poverty was never an end in itself, but a means to the indwelling of God and a way of life that makes present the Kingdom of God" (p. 21).

Francis always want to focus on peace and sees a generous approach to life as something that makes the difference it should.  Bodo comments: "Francis' antidote to war is poverty, which frees him and his followers to embrace and include and give. They have no need to be defensive because they have nothing to defend. ....An extreme greed can only be countered by an extreme love, not by a watered-down mediocrity" (p. 27/8).

We find that to which God calls us when we take the risk of trouble of going to the unlikely places. Bodo again: "Life among the "lepers" is always madness to those for whom respectability is holiness and safety is the norm..  True poverty of spirit is never in safety but in the risk of looking for God where He said He was to be found, among the least of His brothers and sisters" (p. 89).

May the example of Francis inspire us to abandon the world's conventions of grabbing what we can, and exchange them for that generosity of giving which truly reflects the Jesus whom we are called to follow.

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