Monday, 10 October 2011

Francis and the Pardon of God

St Francis knew that men and women cannot be harangued or bullied into the Kingdom of God. Rather Francis knew that people cannot only be loved into the Kingdom. What condemnation and accusation cannot do, gentle kindness, courtesy and understanding can achieve.

G.K. Chesterton said that Francis “walked the world as the Pardon of God.” It was as if,  in him, their little brother, people could glimpse the smile on the Father’s face, see how much they were accepted and cherished, and so felt free to come home. This is the approach of redemptive compassion that Francis wanted the friars to adopt – revealing a compassion that lifts people up with the hope of change, that life can be different.

The Rule told how the friars are to go among the people as humble brothers. “I counsel, admonish and exhort my bothers in the Lord Jesus, that, when they go about the world, that they do not quarrel, or fight with words, or judge others. Rather, let them be meek, peaceful and unassuming, gentle and humble, speaking courteously to everyone, as is becoming.”

Francis, in choosing to side with the outcasts, the lepers, ascended low enough so as to discover the Incarnation writ everywhere. The Franciscan vision is about the dignity of the human person. It is about making the language of the human community a language of “brother and sister.”

Francis called us to bend low in love, to find the humble goodness of God in the simple and oftentimes broken hearts in the world.