“Always preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.”
St. Francis of Assisi
Together, St. Francis and his friars would travel through towns and the countryside, preaching the gospel. A stigmatist, a healer, a man who preached to the birds who listened to him, a miracle worker, and he lived in peace. He resisted many changes to his order. When they were approved, he became very sad and depressed. His peace left him. According to tradition, Francis had a dream in which the Lord said to him,
"Poor little man, why are you so sad? Is not your order, My order? Is it not I who am its chief shepherd? Cease to be afflicted, then, and take care rather of your own salvation."
Peace returned to Francis as he surrendered all to God. He again began to live his life in complete holiness and surrender to God.
We live in a world that is not holy, nor is our world interested in becoming holy. We are called to evangilze those who do not know or seek Christ. Our world becomes less holy each day, but those who are not holy, and trust me, I am not holy. You are not holy. There are those who are truly holy, but most of us are not. Do we seek to convert by means of violence, whether in harsh, unkind words or deeds, or do we seek to convert by love?
Mother Teresa simply sought to love, and she practiced that love in the streets of Calcutta. I’m sure she gagged at the condition of some the people whom she brought to her home. They were near death and no one had cared for them. She and her sisters cared for them with love until they died. They rejected no one. They simply loved these people. In saving the poorest of the poor, Mother Teresa and her sisters saved themselves.
Following the example of St. Francis, she preached the gospel always by loving God and those who were sent to her. If there were words, they came later in tenderness and joy for the sick and dying and for her Master whom she saw in all the people whom she rescued from the streets. Mother Teresa, like St. Francis, was a giver of love and peace, the peace which we lack in our world today.
We have a situation, and we have to choose how we will remedy that situation. Will we choose the way of peace and love or the way of war and violence for conversion? The choice is up to each of us, but I prefer love and peace. Relfect on this as you pray the prayer of St. Francis.
The Peace Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.