Sunday, October 16, 2011
Blog # 196 Following the Leader
Blog # 196 Following the Leader Most of us are familiar with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, the holy man who lived in Europe more than seven hundred years ago. "Lord, make us* instruments of Your peace. Where there is hatred let us bring Your love, injury/pardon, doubt/faith, despair/hope. darkness/light, sadness/joy. This prayer of Francis certainly contains a good bit of the substance of the Gospel message of Jesus as far as personal holiness is concerned. And a beautiful thing about Francis was he lived the words he prayed. Some men and women in the history of the Church, like Francis, seem to have understood so clearly and well the meaning and consequences of the message of Jesus that their whole lives were changed by it. Others, though believing in the Lord, seem to show little difference in their daily experience as a result of their faith. From what I can see many church members , even those who attend church regularly, do that much and then the rest of the week lead lives that are very much the same as their neighbors who are not church members. It is not that they are actually sinning in the sense of stealing, committing murder, or beating their wives. Rather, their lives seem to be determined by the moral standards values and attitudes of their fellow Americans rather than in any significant way by their experience of faith. Many of these people would be morally good even if they did not happen to be a believer. Apparently it was much the same in the days of Francis. But he was different. He saw the Gospel of Jesus as an invitation and a command to be radically holy. He understood and accepted the call of the Gospel to give himself for others, to see the needs of others as his own, to be indeed a living expression in his own body of the goodness and generosity of Jesus. I think a good place to begin in determining where we stand in this regard is to check our prayer life. How close to God do we live as reflected in our prayer? What is our primariy concern, our primary joy in our prayer experience? Do we ever permit God to let us know by way of a good conscience He is pleased with the way we trust Him, seek to love Him, and try to discover opportunities in our everyday experience for growing in our love for Him and for those around us? May we follow his lead to the eternal life he enjoys and the inspiration he continues to be! Lord, make us instruments of Your peace, in our kitchens, in our schools, in our work places... * Some editions of this prayer use the individual personal pronoun "me". In changing it to "us" I include in my mind here the more than six billion people now living on earth including the minority of us Christian believers. I think Francis would like that.