It’s St. Francis day and we have a Pope Francis!
Thanks be to God, Pope Francis is really using his time in leadership to make big changes and redefine roles. Basically Pope Francis is doing a great job of honoring his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. This is really good news for Franciscans like me who take seriously what Christ said to St. Francis: “rebuild my Church.”
Pope Francis keeps emphasizing that Gospel living is messy. (Some people have asked me if he reads this blog! Ha!)
Eight-hundred yeas ago, the life of St. Francis was a testament that Church re-building is messy activity. Truly, discipleship is about conversion. And, change tends to be chaotic, causing all sorts of commotion. Through Pope Francis’ leadership we are seeing how graced, Christ-guided changes can grab our hearts’ attention.
A quick study of the news exposes glaring information: democracy is failing. The government isn’t working and doesn’t have much power. It’s not a surprise those things are breaking, they’re things of human invention. Real people-power comes from God, not human-made institutions, systems or wealth and privilege.
Eight-hundred years ago St. Francis (and St. Clare) reformed religious life with insistence for freedom from having to own anything (called the privilege of poverty.) Their radical reforms made big waves during their day because back then monasteries were associated with wealth and might but they wanted to own nothing! The radical insistence of St. Francis and St. Clare on the right stuff of Gospel living– poverty, humility, mutuality, joy, and prayerful peacemaking— rocked the Church with tension and reforms.
Today, lessons about the privilege of poverty are being revealed in St. Francis’ activities and what seems to be another insistence that the Church change and not be about power, privilege, wealth and might. We’re wowed and the world keeps buzzing, a bit blown with wonder. What would a Church be like that lives out the privilege of poverty?
St Francis got it– and now Pope Francis is showing us– true transformations come from inclusive and peacemaking communities who are united and prayerfully protecting the privilege of poverty. Good Gospel freedom comes from humility and not having.
Then and now, the plates of privilege and poverty are colliding. Paradigms of power structures are shifting. Coming up from the cracks, we see new creations.
We find ourselves in strange peaks and valleys and realize God is calling us forward. It’s time for us to let God show us how to remake our institutions and expectations, right with our habits and social systems.
A new type of people-power is happening. Something awesome and Christ-centered is coming! Let’s party and celebrate as we move into new ways of being.
Happy St. Francis Day!!