October 4,

Saint Francis of Assisi, Religious

The Saints renew the church

But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. Gal 6,14-18

Today the church celebrates Francis of Assisi, a saint who lived the gospel in a way so radical and complete, to be considered the person who has approached more than any other to the model of Jesus Christ. The first today reading is taken from saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul is certainly the greatest evangelist of the church, a saint who has fully spent his life for the Lord. Paul and Francis, whom we today share in our meditation, are two of the giants of the salvation history, the two saints honored by the gift of the stigmata which are the signs of the suffering endured because of their fidelity to the gospel. The Galatians, in the today’s passage, had put Paul in trouble, addressing a difficult question on whether it was necessary to be circumcised in order to be followers of Jesus Christ. Paul, who had to answer enough often to certain questions (not raised by the community of Galatians), today does it with a phrase which  perhaps he should have used more frequently: “From now on, let no one make troubles for me, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body”. It often happens that the gospel is understood as a series of rules to be followed, of practices to be carried out or of things to do or not to do. These are all things right and holy, but what really matters, Paul says, is to be a “new creature”. It is sufficient a single new creature in Christ to renew the whole church. This is what Francis of Assisi was for the church of its historical period and it is the same also for the church of today. A drop of holiness sanctifies an entire environment for a long time. It happened with my grandfather Mario in his family and with the grandmother Betta in our family, when, by the recent times, she did not get up from the bed and she spent most of her whole day in prayer: due to this, the whole house was blessed.

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