Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Francis: The Gift of Alms

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Esther C:12, 14–16, 23–25;
Psalm 138:1–2ab, 2cde–3, 7c–8;
Matthew 7:7–12

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” —Matthew 7:11


With passages such as we find in today’s Gospel, it’s not hard to see how Francis decided that relying on other people to provide for the brothers’ needs was a way of living out their total reliance on God.

Once when St. Francis visited [Cardinal Hugolino], and the hour of dinner was at hand, he went out for alms, and returning, placed some of the scraps of black bread on the bishop’s table.…When the dinner was finished, the bishop arose and taking the man of God to an inner room, he raised his arms and embraced him. “My Brother,” he said, “why did you bring shame on me in the house that is yours and your brothers by going out for alms?” The saint said to him: “Rather I have shown you honor, for I have honored a greater lord. For the Lord is well pleased with poverty, and above all with that poverty that is voluntary. For I have a royal dignity and a special nobility, namely, to follow the Lord who, being rich, became poor for us.” And he added: “I get more delight from a poor table that is furnished with small alms than from great tables on which dainty foods are placed almost without number.”  Then, greatly edified, the bishop said to the saint: “Son, do what seems good in your eyes, for the Lord is with you.”

It is hard to depend on other people. We feel ashamed when we are in need and in turn shame those who need help from others, especially if they are “undeserving.” Francis teaches us that by learning to rely on the Lord and on the gifts we receive from others—and all is gift—we are as needy as any beggar on the street.


Prayer

You are all our riches,
And you suffice for us.
Amen.


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