Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
Psalm 51:3–4, 12–13, 18–19;
“This is generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” —Luke 11:29
Jonah was the stereotypical doomsday prophet, proclaiming, “The end is near. Repent!” Francis stood out from the crowd, too. Assuredly there were many who ignored or ridiculed him. But he was extraordinarily effective in getting people to follow him, a charismatic attraction that continues to our own day. The sincerity with which he lived his faith must have had a great deal to do with that.
The truth of his teaching was brought home to people by the simplicity of his way of life, and two years after his own conversion several men were drawn to follow his example of penitence, and they left everything in order to join him. The first of these was Brother Bernard of holy memory. He well knew how luxuriously Francis had lived in the world; therefore, when he saw how he labored to restore ruined churches and what a harsh life he led, Bernard too resolved to sell his possessions and give all to the poor. It seemed to him the will of God that he should follow Francis in clothing and his whole manner of life. With this in mind he went one day secretly to see God’s servant and opened his heart to him, also inviting him to come that evening and lodge in his house.
Not all of us are called to give dramatic, public witness to God’s word. We are all called, however, to live the Gospel in our lives.
With all our hearts and all our souls, all our minds
and all our strength, all our power and all our understanding,
with every faculty (see Deuteronomy 6:5) and
every effort, with every affection and all our emotions,
with every wish and desire, we should love our Lord
and God who has given and gives us everything, body
and soul, and all our life. Amen.