Have you ever known anyone who was picky, needy, and didn’t focus on the task in front of them? Well, I know of some people like that as well. I want to talk about a man named Giovanni who was born in 1181. His Father, Pietro, baptized him but did not want him to become a man of God. He wanted a son who was a businessman. A son who would reflect his love of France. Giovanni was in fact renamed because his Father loved France so much. He was renamed, Francesco, which means Frenchman.
Francesco was a spoiled child because his Father was wealthy. He was loved by everyone but was picky, needy, and didn’t focus. He didn’t do well in school because he dreamed about things. As he got older he began to lead a crowd of same aged youth. He would spend his nights partying. Even though he partied and was a dreamer, he was everything his Father wanted him to be.
Francesco, or as he was called Francis, wanted more than to be good at business to become wealthy. He wanted to be a knight! He got a chance when his town went to battle. Everyone was killed except those who were wealthy enough to be used for ransom. Francis was imprisoned. He remained happy while in captivity. After a year, he was ransomed. He went right back to partying. Not in the too distant future he went to be a knight in the Fourth Crusade. Just one day after he left he had a dream in which God told him he had been going about life the wrong way and that he needed to turn around and go home.
When he arrived home, everyone laughed at him. His Father was furious he had spent all this money on a suit of armor just for Francis to come home. Francis began talking to God. He spent more and more time in prayer. He continued to run a business while answering God’s call to return home. One day Francis was riding in the country and came to a leper. Francis went to the leper and kissed his hand. The leper returned the kiss. Francis had never been happier than that moment. He looked at this as a test from God.
While praying at an ancient church one day, God spoke to Francis and told him to repair His church. He thought God meant the little c, church. It was an old church and was falling apart. He began to take money and goods from his Father’s store. His Father was furious and drug Francis to the Bishop and demanded that the money be returned. Not only did Francis give his Father the money back but also all of his clothes. He went to the church and begged for stones to rebuild the church. But this was not the church that God was speaking of, God wanted the big C Church repaired. Francis began to preach. He peached about God and being obedient to God and the Church. One day Francis opened the Bible in three places. The first place was a command to the rich man to sell all his goods and give them to the poor, the next was when the apostles were told to take nothing on their journey, and finally to take up the cross daily. He took these literally.
Part of God’s brotherhood that Francis was a part of was to take care of ALL of God’s creation. Francis thought of the sparrow just as much his brother as a pope. He was a man of action. Because of his actions of living those commands from God that he read in the Bible we now know this man as St. Francis of Assisi. He came from wealth to discover that wealth was not what God had intended for man but for us to use our wealth and talents to take care of God’s creation. This included the poor, nature, and animals. We celebrate what St. Francis taught us from his time with God on October 4th. Because of his love of nature and animals we have a celebration of Blessing the Animals on October 8th, at 10:00am, here in our Church parking lot. This year as you pass people and animals, think of God’s command to take care of all of His creation.
Christian Education Coordinator