The centerpiece of our Franciscan ministry is the Gospel and its call to be disciples of Christ by serving others, especially the poor, the forgotten, and the marginalized. ~ Franciscan Leadership Guide
You probably know who painted at least one of these paintings, even though you may have never seen them before. How? What makes it obvious to you? Style, composition, colors. All these elements come together to reflect their creator.
St Francis understood that that is true of God too. As he looked upon creation, he saw in each person, rock, donkey, mountain and sunset, a reflection of their Creator. When Francis walked down the street, before he recognized someone by their name, Thomas, or their occupation, baker, or their socio-economic status, rich, he recognized them as God’s creation, just as you may have recognized one of these paintings by its creator. He especially recognized God in the poor and forgotten and marginalized.
As creations of God, Francis realized that we are all brother and sister to one another. This idea of being family extended beyond humans. It included sister moon and brother sun; each mineral, animal and mountain is a brother or sister to us.
Francis understood God through the natural world – sometimes referred to as the “book of nature.” Another book that informed his understanding of God and our relationship with the poor, was the Gospels in the bible. At a time when many saw the poor or marginalized as “deserving” of their bad fortune, Francis saw each as brother or sister. He followed Christ’s example of touching the leper, serving the weak, consoling those in grief just as we would with any family member or relation.
Individual Reflection Questions:
Who do I see as brother and sister?
Do I know people who are poor, forgotten or disliked? How do I feel about them?
How does the gospel, and Jesus’ example of serving others, influence how I serve those on the margins?
Group Reflection Questions:
Who does our ministry serve as brother and sister?
Who don’t we serve or treat as brother and sister?
Does our ministry use both the book of nature and the books of the gospels to lead us?