Transitas of St. Francis Reflection
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy
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 they were at the time they were first reportedly proclaimed by our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis of Assisi.
Recently I revisited the film THE GROUND TRUTH, which depicts the effect of war on the innocent youth of our nation who served their country in the belief that they were doing their patriotic duty after the tragic and horrendous events of 9/11.
The film is told in their words and the words of the parents who lost their children.
The parents were proud of their children who were serving their country but they feel abandoned by their country after their child gave the ultimate sacrifice.
I was reminded while watching the film of the life of Saint Francis, who, like those young men and women in the film went off to fight for his country in the belief that what he was doing was the right thing.
He came to the realization that war was not the answer. When he became very sick while serving he saw a vision of Christ.
Francis returned home after recovering 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 proclaim a sense of God’s infinite mercy and love and the message of Christ peace into the world and the church of his time.
THE GROUND TRUTH will cause you to evaluate not only war as a way of resolving differences but also how we should treat those who give so much but in return are often forgotten.
The film will open your mind just as the powerfully vision of Christ did for Saint Francis.
The toll of war is one that society will live with for centuries to come and if it is not addressed today, it will take its toll on our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I am reminded of a song we used to sing so often with the 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 says the following; 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.”
The acceptance of wars and violence has spread to our young and schools where bullying is becoming an epidemic and has caused some to commit suicide.
Ask yourself if the consequences of war are worth the toll that is being taken on our future generations. There has got to be a better way.
In addition to the wars another problem we are facing in this country, just as in St. Francis time, is the need to have excessive wealth. Highly paid athletes are striking for higher and higher wages when they already receive, in many cases, tens of thousands of dollars a game.
Another issue is that ome politicians would cut social programs that help the poor, aged and unemployed of which almost 10% of our nation are attempting to live without jobs.
Saint Francis’s society suffered from all of the same problems we are faced with today and he knew that they were in total opposition to what Christ Taught and worked to change the mindset of the people of his time.
Is it possibly that St. Francis on his feast day and Almighty God are trying to open our minds today to the realization that today’s society is living in total opposition to the teachings of Christ and God’s will for us.
Let us all begin to say aloud the words of Christ found in John 14:27, "Peace be with you my peace be unto you" (Luke 24:36) Let us call to mind the direction we are given in Psalm 34:14, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” And in 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."
We can find further confirmation of God’s direction to us in Luke 1:79 “those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
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 Christ’s words on 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.