The Pastor’s Corner
Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, May the Lord give you peace.
Alleluia! We continue our celebration of Easter! We give praise and thanks to God, who, in great love, is always faithful. Thank you for the many ways that you make the resurrection a reality for people today. We are indeed a graced faith community.
I am always curious about the text in the Acts of the Apostles. I do not dispute the need for ministry to all and the experience of underserved people. The Hellenists complained of being neglected. We continue to realize our limitations in our care for one another. Interestingly enough, the disciples’ response to the cry of the poor was to see their primary role as prayer and the ministry of the Word. They needed to create a new ministry specifically for daily food distribution. Our call is to integrate the care for the community with prayer and the preaching of the Word. When we separate these, we miss the opportunity for encounter. Prayer and the preaching of the Word are essentially connected with engagement with people. Ministry with people is integrally linked to prayer and the living of the Word.
St. Francis understood this link. His encounter with people with leprosy was his encounter with Christ. His engagement with the Sultan was the discovery of a brother. Francis would spend hours in prayer shaped by his encounters with people. His prayer experience was not too busy to afford him the embrace of Christ in the human reality of the brothers, the poor, all afflicted with leprosy, and the infidels. He sent the brothers to live among the Saracens, the infidels. He did not send them to proselytize with words but with the example of their lives. When Francis talks of the poor Christ, he knows that he has bathed, fed, and embraced him/her as well as encountered him in the depths of contemplation. Prayer and service were essential to the lived experience of those who would walk the way of the Gospel with him.
It is wonderful to realize that we continue that tradition today. We have not fled the world but have engaged the mission of the Gospel. This community gives great witness to the love of God lived in care for each person. Our Gospel this weekend is one of my favorites. Jesus tells the disciples, “…you know the way.” From the depths of our being, we know the way. Our engagement with one another, the joy of children, the love of companions, the awe at the migrants’ journey, the courage of the homeless, and the gathering at the Eucharistic table show us the way. We hear Jesus, on the eve of his passion, declare, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God and faith in me.”
As we continue our Easter journey, let us be renewed in our commitment to recognize Christ present in creation, our sisters and brothers, joyful, loving, lonely, broken, fragile, or angry. Let our prayer be shaped by encounters and the mystery of God’s love. We are indeed blessed.
Peace and all good,
Fr. Tom, ofm