ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI, REL. (Memorial) White
Francis was the son of a rich cloth merchant who led a misspent youth. When he served as a soldier, he was imprisoned and got converted. Upon release from prison, he dressed in rough clothes and begged for his sustenance. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached purity and peace. He founded the Franciscans and together with Clare of Assisi founded the Poor Clares in 1212. Francis composed songs and hymns to God and nature, cared for lepers, and sent food to thieves. While in meditation on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life.
First Reading: Neh 2:1-8; Psalm: 137. R. v. 6ab; Gospel: Lk 9:57-62
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The gospel of today narrates Jesus’ encounter with the three would-be disciples. Among the three of them, the response of Jesus to the first seems a bit despairing and discouraging. When the first would-be disciple indicated his interest to follow Jesus; Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Apparently, this shouldn’t be the best response a gospel enthusiast should hear from the very beginning. It is almost like Jesus was saying to him that to accept him was to accept suffering. This can be discouraging. Would it not be better if Jesus sounded a bit positive to begin with? And then gradually uncover to him the demands of true discipleship.
But Jesus sees through our hearts. Most likely, Jesus responded to this man accordingly based on the man’s inner intentions that motivated his decision to follow Jesus. Evidently, this man has more of a selfish than a pure intention in his choice to wanting to be a disciple. This explains Jesus’ blunt and forthright response to dissipate all selfish intentions in him and to prepare his heart for the challenges of the choice he was about to make. The final decision of this man thereafter would prove or disprove the genuineness of his intentions.
Jesus desires that we follow him every day of our lives. But he also demands that we take time to reflect so as to understand the cost of this choice. God does not enjoy the company of half-baked followers who back out on the journey. It is for this reason that Jesus further warns; “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” If we are convinced of our followership with Christ; it is not that we will not fall. But we will have the courage and conviction to stand again and continue on the journey till we reach our true home in heaven. What is it that motivates our choice as disciples of the faith? In this question lies our strength or weakness to succeed or to fail.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, may our faith in you grow day by day; that we may not give up in our choice to follow you. Amen.