God’s Fool ~ St. Francis of Assisi, by sculptor Frank C. Gaylord, Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, Naperville, Illinois
St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most beloved of all the saints. Movies, books, and garden statues reflect a love for him in our modern culture. Francis’s intuition was as simple as it was difficult. Francis wanted to follow the teaching and the footprints of Jesus. To do that, Francis listened to the Gospel, especially any passage in which Jesus is speaking. Then he would ask himself, “How can I put this into practice today?” In the same way he looked for what he called the “footprints” of Jesus. These were not words but actions of Jesus in the Gospel – healing the sick, washing feet, fasting, and praying in the desert. Francis would then try to do similar things in his own life.
Living in this dramatically different countercultural way,
Francis attracted others, men and women,
single and married, to his way of life.
Francis is credited with the founding of three orders in the Church
which all still exist today.
We are invited to be inspired by the example of this humble poor saint from Assisi, lover of peace and friend to the poor and sick, and one who had a great affection for the natural world. We do not need to imitate his actions, but to be challenged ourselves to listen to the words of Jesus in the Gospel, and to remember the actions of Jesus, then trying to put these into practice in our lives and in our own way. In that way, we can consider ourselves, like thousands of people before us, friends and followers of St. Francis of Assisi.