Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi,

May the Lord give you peace.

We had a good weekend celebrating St. Benedict the Moor, remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and recognizing our call to communion. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, calling for an end to division among them. Some claimed to be better than others based on their baptismal affiliation through individual apostles or preachers. Paul reminds them and us that our focus is Christ. A homily for St. Benedict the Moor noted his and the friars’ grace in belonging.

“The challenge St. Benedict the Moor presents to us is his total response to the Lord’s command at the Last Supper: I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so should your love be for one another. The integration of Benedict the Moor into a community of Franciscan confreres racially and ethnically different from himself, their mutual acceptance and love for one another, the choice the friars made to have Benedict, though illiterate, become the superior and guardian of their religious community — these present a timely challenge. They are a source of great encouragement toward holiness through love of neighbor for the love of God. And the challenge and encouragement are further enhanced by the power of Benedict’s example to not only love his neighbor as himself but to love as Christ loved, as he said to his apostles:  Your love for one another must be such as my love has been for you. In this love, we find true communion with all humanity.”

We are in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We recognize the variety of gifts and charisms of the many ways the Gospel is lived among us. All the baptized participate in the Body of Christ. Our vision is Christ and the inbreaking of the Reign of God. This vision calls us to respect differences and accept various views. Pope Francis’ call for a synodal church is an invitation to hear various voices. We are to listen to people both in and outside of the church.

We are linked by a common desire to nurture the community’s life.

With the people of Isaiah’s prophecy, we have walked in darkness and have seen a great light. The darkness of division within our world, nation, and church creates a longing for the great light of God’s love. We hear Jesus empowering people in Matthew’s Gospel as he says, “you are the light of the world.” Illumined by God’s love, we, like Benedict, form an integrated community where racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual difference are accepted in mutual love. We choose to love as we have been/are loved.

Thank your participation in this graced community and group of friends who gather here, in person and online. We are blessed by the grace each person brings to our communion. Our vision is also attentive beyond our doors and welcomes the migrant, the stranger, and the one seeking Christ’s presence.

Thank you.

Thomas M. Gallagher, ofm