Many people in the time of Jesus were surprised that he would give his attention and time to various individuals whom he met along the way. In today’s Gospel we hear the statement: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”We are all sinners and yet Jesus chooses to welcome us and eat with us frequently. To those critics who say that the church is too open and welcoming to certain individuals, we must remember that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” And we must remember what Pope Francis once said: “Who am I to judge?” Today, Jesus speaks about the lost sheep, the prodigal son, and other situations where someone or something is lost and then found. When we enter into situations with the type of heart that Jesus shows us, we bring a great gift to others and to our world.

On September 17 we celebrate the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi. He loved to withdraw to an isolated cave or mountain after he had been preaching and caring for people. This is what gave him the ability to be the loving and approachable person that he was. Those who wrote about him would speak about him as being an “alter Christus”, another Christ and at times “il santo”, the saint. In 1214 while he was praying at Mount La Verna, a Seraph appeared in the sky and marked St. Francis with the marks of the crucified Christ. When you visit Assisi, you can travel to La Verna and visit the shrine dedicated to this event in St. Francis’ life.

-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.

P.S. A Memorial Mass for 9/11 Workers will be celebrated on Tuesday, September 17 at 4:30 PM in the Upper Church.