For the nine days leading up to the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, I hope to share some quotes from some books that have aroused my Franciscan spirit.
Eloi Leclerc wrote a fascinating book on Saint Francis, The Wisdom of the Poor One of Assisi, which provides insights into his spirit, providing some reflections on what the saint of Assis might have said or thought.
At the close of the book, he puts these words in the mouth of Saint Francis:
“The Lord has sent us to evangelize the world. But have you already thought about what it means to evangelize people? Can’t you see, Brother, that to evangelize a person is to say to that one: ‘You ─ yes, you too are loved by God in the Lord Jesus.’
“And you must not only tell that person so, but you must really believe it, and not only believe it, but conduct yourself with this person in such a way that this person can feel and discover there is something within that is being redeemed, something more majestic and noble than had ever been dreamed.
“Thus will this person be aroused to a new awareness of self. Thus will you have proclaimed to that one ‘the good tidings of great joy.’ This will be possible only if you offer that person your friendship, a true friendship, unbiased and without condescension, a friendship rooted in profound confidence and esteem.
“We must go unto all people, but that is not easy. The world of people is a huge battlefield for wealth and power, and too much suffering and atrocity can eclipse the face of God. In going to everyone we must above all never appear to them as a new species of competitor. We must stand in the midst of them as the peaceful witnesses for the All Powerful, as those who covet nothing and scorn no one, people capable of truly becoming their friends. It is our friendship that they are waiting for, a friendship that should make them feel they are loved by God and redeemed in Jesus Christ.”
The evangelization of the love of God must be accompanied by our love for all, so that all of us may recall that we are loved by God.
This is what Saint Francis did; this is what Pope Francis asks us to do. This is what we need to remember:
We are loved by God in the Lord Jesus.