Outlook 23
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Love is all
Your deeds may be the only sermon some people hear today. I have long been a devotee of St Francis of Assisi. As a country child, I identified with the care and concern expressed to animals and all living things by the old farm workers – their gentleness and their patience. I sat at my school desk and learned about Jesus ‘meek and mild’; and I was brought up in a house which was full of love, and children. I readily identified with the notion of sharing meagre food, and few possessions. And in the background, hovering in words and pictures, this brown-clad saint – perhaps no great theologian, but a man who loved everyone and all creatures. Christ teaches us that Love is all – and Francis followed that teaching until his death. His teaching, his example, enable us to be rooted and grounded in Biblical faith – and holds us fast in the real world of creation, aware and involved in the earth, the sky, the sea. We live in times when wars and rumours of wars are rife, and where on every side we witness, and sadly sometimes ignore, all manner of pollution and degradation of life. Francis’ way of life, his simple love of all people and all creation offers us a legacy, to follow his example. Setting a good example St Francis taught a love of nature, reverence for life, honesty and openness to our brothers and sisters, a way of life which leads to real joy and peace, enfolded in which there is the need to recognise our mistakes and change our ways. In that he lived following the true way of Christ, many view him as one of the best examples of how to live the Christian ideal. Others believed him to be a fool – or a madman. But if you visit Assisi, make a pilgrimage to his birthplace, on a summer weekend, you will find it crowded with people. Is it to honour a fool that they arrive in their droves? Pope Gregory canonized Francis; Pope John Paul II made him Patron Saint of Ecology; and the present Pope chose to take his name – Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio honoured the Saint by becoming Pope Francis. St Francis lived the Gospel, showing us clearly the universal love and way of Christ, purely and simply, undivided by sects and schisms, untainted by division. In St Francis the light shines and glows, leading us through the darkness to the greater light beyond. Michael H Stagg