"Following St. Francis to Heaven"

“Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: 4 October 2020

“And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

Today, 4th of October, we celebrate the Solemnity of, we celebrate the feastday of St. Francis of Assisi who, in the Thirteenth Century, transformed society so much that he was called “The Mirror of Christ.” He understood the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding.” Phil. 4:7 He preached penance to the people and offered his whole life to God who was to him “My God and my all.” For his complete dedication to Christ, he was the first man to receive the stigmata of Jesus’ five wounds on his body. According to St. Bonaventure, this Sacred Stigmata was God’s confirmation of St. Francis’s holy life of virtue and penance. St. Francis’ blessing summarizes his whole teaching: O most beloved Friars and Sons forever blessed. Hear the voice of your Father. Great things have we promised; greater things are promise us. Let us observe the former (our promises); let us aspire to the latter (promises to us). Pleasure is short; punishment is everlasting; retribution to all. Brethren, while we have time, let us do good.”

“Great things have we promised…”

We have promised at our baptism to renounce Satan and all his pomps. We have promised to obey the Ten Commandments and all the teachings of the Catholic Church. As we have promised great things in the sacraments which we have received, we need to keep our promises to God as we can only be happy doing God’s will.

“Greater things are promised us…”

St. Francis knew of Christ from the holy Gospel which he lived completely. This is why he wanted all souls to be saved for the next life[BD1] : For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? Mt. 16:26 For St. Francis, the only evil in the world was mortal sin! He reminded all that “pleasure is short; punishment everlasting.” We can see how the Jews, the House of Israel, in today’s First Reading from Isaiah (5:1-7) did not bring forth good fruit and had their vineyard destroyed: “And now I will shew you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted: I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. Is.5:7 St. Francis wanted all to believe what St. Paul said of heaven: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” I Cor. 2: 9 & Is. 64:4

“While we have time, let us do good.”

In today’s gospel (Mt. 21:33-43), we have the parable of who was entrusted with his master’s vineyard. When the master’s servants came to him, he “beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.” Mt. 21:35 When the Master sent his son, he also killed him. This wicked husbandman is the House of Israel who was entrusted with God’s vineyard, but they would not listen to the prophets and eventually even killed God’s Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The same can be said of all of us in today’s world that we have not used this world’s goods for God’s gory and honour, but for our own pleasure. St. Francis would admonish us: “While we have time, let us do good.” St. Francis would have also be poor in spirit if we have not this world’s goods: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 5: 3.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mt. 22:14

St. Francis transformed his society by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He preached about vice and virtue! He warned every one of the evil of mortal sin which would condemn to hell if they did not repent in this life! He especially preached in all the small towns of Italy the happiness that would theirs in this life and in eternity if they practiced virtue! St Francis taught an eternal wisdom that we all need today when he preached: “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” We need to live good lives for Christ by practicing the gospel teachings of St. Francis who would often warn souls that not all will be saved in heaven: “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mt. 22:14


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