18th Friday of Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Clare of Assisi
Phil. 3:8-14; Matthew 18:27-29
Saint Paul frequently stated in his letters that he was wholehearted in his service of Christ Jesus. Today’s text from his Epistle to the Philippians provides a primary witness to that characteristic trait. He declares that for the sake of Christ Jesus “I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them as so much rubbish.” These word are well suited to this mass in honor of Saint Clare of Assisi. She is well known as having been a friend of Saint Francis of Assisi who had a decisive influence on her religious life. Clare was bom in 1193/94 into a noble Italian family. Her father sought unavailingly to prevent her from becoming a religious. She was attracted by the Gospel message of Saint Francis of Assisi who, aided by the local bishop, helped her to leave her home in 1211/12 to live as a religious in the Portiuncula, on the hillside just below the City of Assisi. She was soon joined by her sister, Agnes of Assisi.
Francis overcame her resistance to serve as the head of the monastery, but once become Prioress she displayed considerable originality. She repeatedly sought Papal approval of a Rule of Life but always met with obstacles since The Fourth Vatican Council did not permit the founding of new Orders. However, when she was on her death bed in 1253 Pope Innocent IV approved of a Rule of Life. It was the first written by a woman and given the Pope’s approval. Clare had a strong concern for the poor and succeeded in winning many needy women to join her monastery. Just two years after her death her cause was presented for canonization.
Jesus gives assurance not only to Peter and the apostles but to all who leave family, friends and possessions for the sake of his name that they will be amply repaid in the end a hundred times more and will be given eternal life as well. May we follow the example of Saint Clare.