A key episode in St Francis' story is his meeting with the Sultan. At the time the Church had sent armies against the Muslims so as to recapture the Holy Land. Francis, in an extraordinary gesture, crossed no-man''s-land and went to meet 'the enemy'.
This Gospel-inspired action still influences the thinking of Franciscans today. It is reflected in the message of the New York friars after the killing of Osama bin Laden (see last post). There has to be another way than hate and revenge.
The friars write: 'We are called to redouble our efforts to seek peaceful solutions to international and domestic conflicts, ... As Franciscans, we are particularly aware that reconciliation can repair the broken relationships of humanity — as such, it must be one of our highest goals.
'Finally, in our own lives, we are called to do all that is within our ability to reconcile with others with whom we have conflict or disagreement. Perhaps this is also an invitation for greater interfaith dialogue. We must not allow any opportunity to seek reconciliation to pass by unanswered.
'Easter reminds us that reconciliation is always possible because of the steadfast love of our God who remains forever committed to us. We pray that we may never lose hope and that we may have the faith and openness to seek to journey with all others of good will. We offer these reflections with humility, believing that as we respond to the invitation to imitate the love of God revealed in the dying and rising of Jesus Christ, more wondrous and unimaginable gifts await us all.
May the Lord give you peace.'