Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. In 2008, I had the opportunity to visit Assisi and walk in the footsteps of St. Francis. My recollection is that Assisi is truly the most peaceful place I have ever visited, especially the hermitage at Mount Subasio. The peaceful silence was deafening and it seemed as though even nature stood in awe and respect of that holy place.
I would assume that most people recognize St. Francis by a depiction of him surrounded by birds and/or other animals. After all, he is the patron saint of animals and ecology. Another aspect of Francis is that he gave up, in modern day terms, the lifestyle of the rich and famous. While praying in the chapel of San Damiano, Christ, from the crucifix, told Francis to “Go, rebuild My Church.” Francis’ love for Jesus impelled him to shed his fine clothes and dress in rags. He radically lived the gospel, caring also for the poor and sick.
The Gospel is still the same today and calls us to care for those who are forgotten or rejected. Pope Francis, who chose St. Francis as his patron, models for us to reach out to those on the margins. In your prayer and daily encounters with others what is God calling you to? How can you respond in love to the needs of our time? You may not hear it from the crucifix, as did St. Francis, but perhaps you can hear it in the cry of the poor and creation. Whatever you choose, I encourage you to choose the vocation of love.