03 October 2008

Feast of St Francis of Assisi

My God and My All! Deus Meus et Omnia! All good wishes to my Franciscan Sisters and Brothers on this patronal feast! I hope it is a day filled with Franciscan joy and simplicity and that this ancient Franciscan motto echoes in your hearts. In today's world we need more than ever a commitment to Franciscan values, not least a commitment to treasure God's creation in a way which fosters ecological health. Genesis tells us we are stewards of this creation and it is a role we need to take seriously. Francis reminds us of this commission of ours, not least by putting God first in everything. (It is difficult to exploit the earth in the name of consumerism when we put God first, and in fact, allow him to be our God and our All!)

Another theme of Francis's was the rebuilding of the Church and he came to know that it was only as each of us embraced a life of genuine holiness that the Church would be the living temple of God it was meant to be. Having just come from the dedication of our new cathedral and then reading a series of comments by those who denounce everything about it as "protestantized", ugly, etc ad nauseam --- all without ever seeing the place --- I know that the church needs rebuilding. We are a divided household, so it is appropriate that we begin lections on Monday from Paul's letter to the church in Galatia where he takes on those who try to substitute a law-laced Gospel which require Gentile Christians to become practicing Jews as though baptism needs be supplemented by circumcision and the church is to be composed of two classes of Christians, the traditional (circumcized) remnant and the gentiles who lack in externals what the law requires --- nevermind the state of their heart or the truth of their adoption by God. As Paul knew, THIS was the true blasphemy.

But both Paul and Francis knew that if they truly put God and his Christ first what would be built up was a new family, a new creation, undivided and of a single heart. So, in a broken world, and an ailing church, let us learn from these two "fools for Christ" and rebuild in Christ a living temple of unity and love. Again, all good wishes to my Franciscan Sisters and Brothers! I am off to read Chesterton's biography of St Francis, I think.