04 Oct – Memorial for St Francis of Assisi
Francis Bernardone (1181–1226) was the son of Pietro Bernadone, a rich cloth merchant. Though he had a good education and became part of his father’s business, he also had a somewhat misspent youth. He was a street brawler and some-time soldier. He was captured during a conflict between Assisi and Perugia, and spent over a year as prisoner of war. During this time, he had a conversion experience, including a reported message from Christ calling him to leave this worldly life. Upon release, Francis began taking his religion seriously.
He took the Gospel as the rule of his life, Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. His family disapproved, and his father disinherited him; Francis formally renounced his wealth and inheritance. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached in the streets, and took all men and women as siblings.
He began to attract followers in 1209, and with papal blessing founded the Franciscans based on a simple statement by Jesus: “Leave all and follow me.” In 1212, Clare of Assisi became his spiritual student, which led to the founding of the Poor Clares. He visited and preached to the Saracens. He composed songs and hymns to God and nature. He lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. In 1221 he resigned direction of the Franciscans.
While in meditation on La Verna (Mount Alvernia) in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life. This miracle has a separate memorial on 17 September.
In the Middle Ages, people who were believed to be possessed by Beelzebub especially called upon the intercession of St. Francis, the theory being that he was the demon’s opposite number in heaven.
“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” – St. Francis of Assisi
– Patron Saint Index
The word of the Lord was addressed a second time to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers, as follows: ‘Men and beasts, herds and flocks, are to taste nothing; they must not eat, they must not drink water. All are to put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil behaviour and the wicked things he has done. Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?’ God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour, and God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.
Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’
It is Mary who has chosen the better part
Mary and Martha- who can you relate more to? Martha’s words and actions indicated that she was practical and efficient. Among the sisters, Martha appeared to be the leader and the more hospitable and social of the two. Yet as we reflect, did Martha serve to make her actions known and her presence worthy to be commented? Being busy with her actions, Martha forgot to be in the presence of God. When it was seen that her sister was not working as hard as her, she felt that it was a bit unfair for her.
On the contrary, Mary played a different role. She made a conscious decision between two alternatives: She chose to listen to Jesus over the preparation of a meal. Given the opportunity, she chose to listen to the wisdom of Jesus, her Savior. She chose to be in a personal relationship with Jesus, to enter his presence without first doing this and that and whatever.
For me, I am able to relate to the role of Martha. Most of the time at gatherings, I will be the one busy playing host. In a way, it is to indicate to others that I am overall in charge, hence there is this pride factor in me. This reading also reminds me of humility and to serve others in fellowship and selflessly. It certainly takes a conscious effort to be like Mary- just being still and dwell in His presence. Most of the time I am distracted by many things in life, like the internet, my family, my work etc. It is also a challenge having to trust God and let His will be done in our lives. Even spending time reading the bible, praying and listening to His word, is also a conscious effort on my part. Yet I realise as I seek to put God the centre of my life, there is this peace that falls upon me.
Jesus noted that Martha stayed busy with form, but that Mary concentrated on substance. He commended Mary for choosing the good part, the holy words, truth and faith of Jesus Christ, which will never be taken from her. Mary was humble, convicted and dedicated to Jesus and His teachings that no expense or personal act was too great or demanding for her to honor her Savior. This attitude, outlook and perspective is the kind of approach God desires in all His disciples, which include us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Patricia Ang)
Prayer: Lord give us the right attitude to serve and to love you. Allow us to stay focus on you and to discern your plans for us.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord for loving us and dwelling within us. Give us a heart of service so that we can be used as an instrument for your glory.
Wed, 05 Oct – Jonah 4:1-11 Luke 11:1-4
Thu, 06 Oct – Malachi 3:13-20; Luke 11:5-13; Memorial for St Bruno, Priest
Fri, 07 Oct – Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14; Luke 1:26-38; Memorial for Our Lady of the Rosary
Sat, 08 Oct – Joel 4:12-21; Luke 11:27-28
Sun, 09 Oct – Isaiah 35:6-10; Philippians 4:12-14.19-20; Matthew 22:1-14; Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time