The Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi
(Galatians 1: 13-24, Luke 10: 38-42)
I always take great delight in reading Paul’s recollections of his conversion. That event stands as a beacon of hope for all of us. The story is intriguing. Saul who was going to save Judaism from the contamination of Christ was stopped in his tracks by Christ. He who prided himself in being an observant Jew was called to the obedience of faith. He, who walked according to his own lights, was blinded by the Light of the World. He who sought to make himself holy was called to holiness by the grace of God. The Light of Truth knocked him down and the Fire of Divine Love purified his heart. His conversion was brought about by the love of Christ working in him. Saul did not stay on the ground. Acknowledging his interior blindness, he stretched out a hand and asked those around him to help him get back on his feet as he prepared to take the next step in faith. A few words from the First Letter of Peter would be appropriate at this point. “Even though you have not seen him, you love him. Even though you do not see him now, you trust in him. Your hearts are filled with an indescribable joy that has been touched with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).
Our conversion, indeed, the whole walk of faith, begins and ends in Christ and his grace at work in us. The love God has for us is mindboggling. To think, that God so loved the world that he came to us even before we knew our need for his love. The Light of Christ dawns on our darkness. The Son of God extends a nailed scarred hand to raise us out of the mire. The Good Shephard calls us by name and draws us to his sacred heart in a loving embrace. The Savior of mankind floods us with infinite, patient, and indulgent love as he puts us back on our feet. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, no one can put a limit on the love of the all-forgiving God. Just by looking at him, just by raising our eyes from ourselves and our wounds, we create an opening for the action of his grace. By his abundant grace, our heavenly Father transforms us and remolds us until he sees in us what he sees and loved in his Beloved Son.
Meister Eckhart shared a wonderful reflection.“Now listen to a marvel! How marvelous, to be without and within, to embrace and be embraced, to see and be the seen, to hold and to be held – that is the goal, where the spirit is ever at rest, united in joyous eternity” (Pr. 86, Meister Eckhart). God has perfect knowledge of us. All our thoughts and actions are exposed to his loving gaze. When we allow Christ to gaze upon us, we are transformed. Because we have been conformed to the Beloved Son in Baptism, we have become a new creation. We need God’s favor to be happy. We need Christ’s loving embrace to be saved. If we seek God in all creatures with ardent longing we will be aware of God’s presence and be attentive to his voice every day of our lives. In those sacred moments, we will be as near to God as we are to ourselves
“Most High glorious God, bring light to the darkness of my heart. Give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, insight, and wisdom, so I can always observe Thy holy and true command. Amen.”
(The Prayer of Saint Francis before the Cross at San Damiano)