POVERTY AND SIMPLICITY

St. Francis of Assisi            

            We celebrate today the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis of Assisi was born in 1182. He was the son of a wealthy merchant.

            When he heard the call of God, he gave up everything, he gave it all away, to follow the Lord – including turning all his clothes to his father, and walked naked into the woods. Ganun ka-radikal ang ginawang pagsunod ni St. Francis kay Kristo: iniwan ang lahat ng bagay, hinubad pati ang kanyang damit. Francis gave up everything for Christ and began to live a life of evangelical poverty and simplicity. That was a spark that lit a spiritual fire throughout Europe.

            Francis’ life of poverty shows that the things of this world are to be used, not to be worshipped. It shows us that we fulfill our vocation from God not by accumulating and hoarding things but by giving up things – thus, liberating ourselves from the assumption that more is better.

            The call of St. Francis to us today is not necessarily  to live out radical poverty but to embrace simplicity. Simplicity of life frees us to become spiritually wealthy in spiritual goods. The great gift of St. Francis to our world is the insight that who we are is more important than what we have. As Joseph Krempa puts it, “In a world trapped by accumulation, materialism, and consumerism, Francis brings us liberation through simplicity of life to be freed for the things of God.” This is the kind of liberation that we need today.

            The Lord will always invite us, as he did to Francis, to do one thing: TO GIVE AND GIVE AND GIVE. It could take many forms: giving and sharing our material resources, especially to the needy; giving and rendering our time and talent in the service of the community; giving and imparting joy and happiness to everyone we encounter; giving peace… giving love… giving life…

            We must realize that “giving away” is a source of grace – it is sharing in God’s way of being. The very being of God is GIVING; so, “giving away” is sharing in the very life of God. Do you want to have the divine life? Well, then, give it away. Share God’s life… Share God’s gifts. Happiness is found in loving acts, in selfless deeds, in giving of ourselves in love – like St. Francis did.

            Let us conclude our reflection with the famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: 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 pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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