Peace Be With You
A Reflection for the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church New England
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love."
These words from the peace prayer of Saint Francis could not be more poignant today than at the time they were first attributed to our seraphic Father, Saint Francis of Assisi whose feast day is Sunday the 4th of October.
This year we not only honor the Seraphic Father of all Franciscan orders around the world but the 800th anniversary of the approval of the Rule of St. Francis by which we all live.
There are Franciscans in the Anglican, Roman, Reformed and Old Catholic traditions.
While watching the film of the life of Saint Francis I was reminded of a another film THE GROUND TRUTH which depicts the horrors that our men and women who fight in wars face on return.
Like the young men and women of today in that film who went off to fight for their country in the belief that they were doing the right thing after 9/11, St. Francis had gone off to fight for his state and became very sick and in that sickness saw a vision of Christ. He came to the realization that war was not an answer.
Francis came back to denounce all violence and the corrupt and excessive ways of the world.
He rejected all the fineries and luxuries of the world for the simple life.
Francis then went on to restore a sense of God’s infinite mercy and love and the message of Christ peace into the world and the church of his time.
He lived off the generosity of others and on what he received for his labor, in fact it is a part of his rule that all Franciscans work for their basic needs and beg for things to continue their service to Almighty God.
After watching the film on St. Francis I revisited the film THE GROUND TRUTH, which depicts the effect war has had on the innocent youth of our nation who volunteered to serve their country in the belief that they were doing their patriotic duty after the terrible events of 9/11. The film is told in their words and the words of the parents who lost their children. Most of those in the film feel abandoned by their country especially after their child gave the ultimate sacrifice.
THE GROUND TRUTH, is a film that every person in the world should see. It will open your mind just a powerfully as the vision of Christ did for Saint Francis.
The toll of war is one that society lives with for centuries to come and if it is not addressed today by all of us it will continue to take a toll on our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I am also reminded of the song I used to sing with my students LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH written by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson in 1955 another time of an uncertain and questionable war. It has the following words; "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me, Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father, brothers all are we, Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.”
I urge everyone, on this feast of St. Francis, to think seriously about how war and greed are destroying lives and ask yourselves what you might be able to do to bring about changes.
Ask yourself if the consequences of war are worth the toll that is taking on our future generations.
There has got to be a better way as Saint Francis concluded and just possibly, He and Almighty God are trying to tell us the same thing on this the day we celebrate his life and the 800th anniversary of the approval of the Rule All Franciscan orders live by.
Let us all say aloud the words of Christ found in John 14:27, "Peace be with you .my peace be unto you" (Luke 24:36) and call to mind the directions given in Psalm 34:14, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” And from Jeremiah 28:9 “But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true."
I end with the words from Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” and the words of Christ from the sermon on the Mount “Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS, for they shall be known as the Children of God.”
May the spirit of Saint Francis and His desire to bring the peace of Christ into everyone’s heart and soul fill us with that desire and draw us to action in achieving true and lasting peace among all God’s children.