Some prayers are very popular.
>> Some of them remain very much fixed in our minds.
>> Some of them also awaken instant sentiments of faith, inspiration and love.
One such prayer, which many of us would agree meets the above conditions is:
The Prayer of Peace – “Make me a channel of our peace”
>> Popularly attributed to St Francis of Assisi.
Today we celebrate the Feast day of this peaceful and powerful saint – St Francis of Assisi.
St Francis of Assisi probably is one of the most popular saints in the entire world.
>> The name of this saint invokes so many pictures and words to our minds – nature, animals, poverty, renunciation, cross, stigmata, surrender, trust…
Another aspect of this Great Saint that is highlighted is the Deep JOY that he lived in his life.
We often live in a world “robbed” of true joy and cheerfulness…
>> People today aren’t very happy in life…
The Gospel of the Day is the incident of Jesus sending His Disciples on the mission journey.
The disciples were expected to be messengers of peace…
… “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house’” (Lk 10:5)
Being a ‘messenger of peace’ required that the disciples be joyful and cheerful people…
>> They were to preach the Good News primarily by their life…
…. And this life ought to have been a reflection of joy and peace!
We too are invited to be “messengers of peace”
>> And preach the Good News primarily by our life…
… making our life a reflection of joy and peace!
However, very often, we lose our sense of joy and plunge into disturbances, when encountered by the troubles of life.
Queries on why there is no joy or happiness will evoke some of the following replies:
>> “You don’t know the struggles what I’m going through.”
>> “How can you expect me to be cheerful when my marriage and family is falling apart?”
>> “God seems miles away from me, and you want me to cheer up?”
>> “My kids drive me nuts.”
>> “I’ve got cancer. How can I rejoice?”
>> “People have mistreated me and I’m not going to be happy until I get even.”
>> “If I had more money, I’d be happy.”
Do I identify myself with some of the above replies…..?
If yes, then the Saint of the day, St Francis of Assisi today challenges us to rise above these our concerns and to find the Treasure of True Joy and the Wealth of Genuine happiness in God!
We turn to an incident from his life for our reflection today…
One winter day St. Francis of Assisi with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly.
St. Francis called to Brother Leo, and he said:
“Brother Leo, even if we in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless… note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.“
And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying:
“Brother Leo, even if we give sight to the blind, heal the paralyzed, drive out devils, give hearing to the deaf, make the lame walk, and restore speech to the dumb, and bring back to life a dead man…note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.“
And going on a bit, St. Francis cried out again in a strong voice:
“Brother Leo, if we knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if also to prophesy and to reveal the secrets of the consciences of others… note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”
And as they walked on, St. Francis called again forcefully: ”
“Brother Leo, even if we could speak with the voice of an angel, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters… note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”
And going on a bit farther, St. Francis called again strongly:
“Brother Leo, even if we could preach so well that should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ…note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”
Now when he had been talking this way for a distance, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: “Father, I beg you in God’s name to tell me where perfect joy is.”
And St. Francis replied:
“When we, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of our House, and the brother from inside comes and says angrily: ‘Who are you?’
And we say: ‘We are two of your brothers.’
And he contradicts us, saying: ‘You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away’
And he makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls-then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humility and charity…
… Oh, Brother Leo, note carefully that perfect joy is there!
‘And if we continue to knock, and the brother comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying; ‘Get away from here, you dirty thieves-go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? And if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts…
… Oh, Brother Leo, note carefully that perfect joy is there!”
And if later, we still cry loudly begging them to open for us and he grows still more angry and says: ‘I’ll give them what they deserve.’
And he comes out and beats us so much that he covers our bodies with wounds–if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, and bear the sufferings patiently for love of Christ…
… Oh, Brother Leo, note carefully that perfect joy is there!
‘And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo.
>> Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ.
‘I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
PERFECT JOY IS ONLY IN THE CROSS!
This incident of St Francis of Assisi, might sound too ideal for us…
And the approach and attitude of the Great Saint might seem too utopian for us…
>> Still, it is possible to grow in our understanding of True Joy and Peace in God alone..
… and making the Cross as the True Source of our Solace and Consolation!
Let us seek the Intercession of this Wonderful Saint in being an instrument of joy & peace
“Make me Lord, a channel of your peace…”
Happy Feast Day!
God Bless! Live Jesus!