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St Francis Assisi

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St Francis Assisi

GAL 1:13-24
Luke 10:41-42

Our hidden and loving God, dwells in inaccessible light, unknown to the world, but imparts himself abundantly and lovingly to those who, having purified their soils from the spots of earthly filth and attachments, express and show forth in their hearts and bodies, Jesus Christ crucified. After Christ Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, God has raised men in the life of the Church to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In the life of the Church, there is no saint like St. Francis. He was totally unique like a man from outer space. Christ gave him a new heart in order for him to be close to His Sacred Heart. In the school of his crucified Lord, he was called the seraphic saint, he burst into tears while singing and contemplating the love of God. He spent nine months in contemplation in a hermitage and three months preaching the love of God and the conversion of hearts. Following his practical spirituality, we should all be striving to attain an integrated life – a life of piety and prayer, and an active external apostolate, both orientated towards God, both undertaken out of love for Him. 

St. Francis learned so vehement a love of holy poverty that he extended his rule of poverty to his friars through extinguish charity and devotion. This interior crucifixion of the heart, this perfect simplicity and disengagement of the affections, consist not in the exterior renunciation of the world, but in the spirit and is compatible with the state and employments of every lawful condition in the world, as many saints have shown, who, on thrones, in courts, or armies, learned to die to the world and themselves, used the things of this world as stewards only, while living as strangers and pilgrims on earth.

Today’s Gospel also reminds us of the active and contemplative life as Jesus visits his friends. Moved by the same love and concern for God, Martha and Mary also welcomed Jesus into their home who enjoyed their gracious hospitality. In this brief encounter, we are able to see a display of two different temperaments in the two sisters who are out to make sure that their guest feels at home. As Martha loved to serve, in her anxious manner of waiting on Jesus, she caused more unrest trying to satisfy the material needs. Mary on the other hand in her simple and trusting manner waited on Jesus by sitting attentively at His feet seeking the spiritual. How can the serving of Jesus and at least twelve disciples be left to only one person?

Here we can understand Martha’s frustration, yet we must know that when we are striving to take care of God, He is the one who instead takes care of us since left to ourselves we cannot help ourselves. So, in welcoming Him, it is He who welcomes us into His living presence. Bethany is the house but the heart is the home that Christ wishes to dwell. What we need to do therefore is not to separate the work of Martha and the prayers of Mary, but combine them since each is very important. But it serves to first listen to God’s Son as Mary did. An active life which is forgetful of union with God is spiritually barren.  An apparently intense life of prayer which shows no concern for our Christian apostolate or the sanctification of ordinary things is also unlikely to please God.

Their hospitality for Jesus opened a channel of blessings for them. When we care for God, He blesses us. Why not care for God today? Ask yourself today, how do you treat the strangers, the weak and poor in your midst? there is no time or place where good cannot be done. Such golden opportunities always come when we feel helpless. But wherever there is a need to do good, God is present. God is always there, and we must welcome Him into our hearts. We meet Him there. We cannot, therefore, afford to postpone our response to such opportunities that call us to be hospitable, care for the weak, the sick, the poor, and the poor.

God communicates to us in various ways on a daily basis. However, in this noisy age, we risk what He is trying to say in every given situation. We can misunderstand Him like Martha, except we first apply the ‘Marian’ approach of going to sit at His feet to listen attentively to Him so as to know what He wants at each moment. He desires our attentive presence so that we can understand His will before going about accomplishing it. It is only by giving Him our undivided attention that we can understand Him and make Him welcome in our hearts. May the Lord open our hearts to listen to Him so that He may come in and stay. Amen

Fr Joseph Osho

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