Today is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi…you know, the peacenik, animal-loving saint whose statue is, after Our Lady’s, the most popular in yards and gardens. Oh, and how many Catholics and Anglicans took their pets to have the Sign of the Cross made over them at the annual Blessing of the Animals? Or at least thought about it? C’mon, raise your paws…I mean, hands.
St. Francis’ Day is a wonderful day and he is a wonderful saint, “Everyone’s Saint” and “the most Christ-like person after Christ”. I want us to look more deeply at who he was and is, though. Yes, Francis gave up riches for poverty, he loved and cared for all the creatures of God put in his path, and he was a profound man of peace. But, do you know what Francis would really want to be remembered for? His deep love for and total abandonment to Jesus Christ, crucified for poor sinners. THAT was the Source of Francis’ embracing of poverty and the poor, his deep concern for the animals, and his working for peace among men.
You see, we can work to help the poor, we can work for animal protection and rights, and we can strive to bring peace on the earth but, “unless the Lord build the house, the workers labor in vain.” For Christians, Jesus…who gave His Life for our salvation and for the eventual redemption even of the whole created universe…is to be the Source and Centre of even the best and most worthy efforts. For us who “love His appearing”, keeping Him before our eyes, is the best, the only way, really, to make a redemptive impact on this fallen world. Just as St. Francis did.
O Francis of Assisi, pray for us, to Christ our God, the Source of all good works. Amen.