Voices ever ancient, ever new. Saint Francis of Assisi 2013.

“Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)

In commenting on this verse from the Gospel according to Saint Luke from today’s Mass Readings, Cyril of Alexandria writes:

“Christ gives those who love instruction the assurance that whatever is said concerning him by the holy apostles or evangelists is to be received necessarily without any doubt and to be crowned with the words of truth. He who hears them, hears Christ. For the blessed Paul also said, “You desire proof that Christ is speaking in me.” Christ himself somewhere also said to the holy disciples, “For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you.” Christ speaks in them by the consubstantial Spirit. If it is true, and plainly it is, that they speak by Christ, how can they err? He affirms that he who does not hear them, does not hear Christ, and that he who rejects them rejects Christ, and with him the Father. (Commentary on Luke, Homily 63)"

Today is the memorial of Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi. On 27 January 2010, Pope Benedict devoted his weekly Wednesday audience to reflections on his life and theology.

An excerpt ‘from a letter written to all the faithful’ (which also appears in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings) is presented here along with a brief biography.

While there are many aspects of life associated with Saint Francis such as his respect for Creation (his Canticle of the Creatures is grounded in Psalm 148), depiction of harmony with animals, universal saint - not to mention the many images of Saint Francis in bird baths, Saint Francis is first and foremost the poor man of Assisi who so opened himself to be passionately seized by Jesus Christ that he bore the Sacred Wounds of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Saint Francis’ life is the radical (meaning “at the roots”) living of the Gospel, captured in a prayer that summarizes the life of Il Poverello.

In the early days of his new life in Jesus Christ, Saint Francis spoke of words he received from the Crucified Jesus in a small dilapidated chapel of Saint Dennis (San Damiano). The words - “Go and rebuild my house!” - impelled Francis to go forth into the world living the renewing words and life of Jesus Christ (see Pope Pius XI’s On Saint Francis of Assisi).

With the prayers of Saint Francis, we pray today for Papa Francis, who travels to Assisi this day to pray for all peoples and to guide the renewal of the Church, the Body of Christ, in our time.

O God,
by whose gift Saint Francis
was conformed to Christ
in poverty and humility,
grant that, by walking in Francis' footsteps,
we may follow your Son, and,
through joyful charity, come to be united with you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen!