These days it’s hard to think of St. Francis without thinking of the one who recently took his name, Pope Francis. Like Francis of Assisi, this Francis seems bent on recalling the church to simplicity and poverty. There’s something radical in his approach and it’s winning respect from people in the church and beyond it.
Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was born into a well-to-do family which was prepared to give him all he could possible wish for. You could say he had it all. Yet he chose to follow Jesus Christ who embraced a cross.
Recently in one of his daily homilies, the pope described similar choices we have before us. He reminded me of his namesake, Francis of Assisi.
“The Holy Father spoke of the different attitudes a Christian can take: either you follow Jesus to a certain point or you follow him to the end. The danger you run, he warned, is giving in to ‘the temptation of spiritual well-being, of thinking that we have everything already: the Church, Jesus Christ, the sacraments, Our Lady and so on– no need to search for anything. But ‘this is not enough. Spiritual well-being is fine to a certain point.’ the Pope explained.
“’What’s missing is the anointing of the cross, the anointing of humiliation. He humiliated himself unto his own death, a death on the Cross. This is the touchstone, the measure of our Christian reality. Am I a Christian of the culture of well-being or am I Christian who accompanies the Lord unto the Cross?’”
Sounds like Francis of Assisi, doesn’t it?
Here’s how the pope sounds to a group at Georgetown, Washington, DC. A wonderful roundtable with David Brooks, Mark Shields and other on Catholic Social Teaching.