“It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy” (John 10:33).
Francis understood that the way to imitate Jesus was by doing the good works that he had done, but there was also a mystical dimension to that identification. He wasn’t simply looking for a better way to live; he was looking for a way to identify completely with God and in so doing give God the most complete praise possible.
Blessed Francis also warned his brothers never to judge or criticize those who live in luxury, eat fastidiously, and indulge in super- fluous and splendid clothes; God, he said, is their Lord and ours; he has the power to call them to himself and to justify them. He insisted that the friars should reverence such men as their brothers and masters, and they are indeed brothers since they are children of the same Creator; while they are our masters since they help the good to do penance by giving them what is necessary to the body. To this blessed Francis added: “The general behavior of the friars among people must be such that all who see or hear them may be drawn to glorify our heavenly Father and to praise him devoutly.”
Francis is often admired by people who have no interest in God, who do not believe in an afterlife, who believe that the only good to be done is here on earth. Those of us who profess the Christian faith know that there’s more to life than this limited time on earth. Francis and Jesus keep us from over-spiritualizing our faith. They keep us attentive to the very human needs of the poor and least ones in our midst. But they also remind us again and again not to lose sight of the big picture, that which gives true meaning to all our lives.
—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek