St Francis' Spacious Place

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Francis' starting place was utter truth. His prayer for nights on end was simply: "Who are you, O God? And who am I?" He repeated it without ceasing, and ... he knew that he was radically unfinished and that he always would be. As he charted his own conversion to the moment when he could embrace an ugly and smelly leper, so his journey to truth began when he could accept the leper part of himself. He spent much of the rest of his life not hiding or disguising that truth, but actually seeming to advertise it. This deep acceptance of his own limitations and capacity for evil had none of the destructiveness and self-loathing that we often find in ourselves. He only rejoiced in the possibility and promise of their redemption.

Francis' reading of the gospel is of utmost relevance today. His focus and emphasis is the same as Jesus'. His life was an enacted parable, an audio-visual aid to gospel freedom. It gives us the perspective by whch to see as Jesus did: the view from the bottom. He insists by every facet of his life that we can only see rightly from a dis-established position. He wanted to be poor first of all simply because Jesus was poor. But he also knew that the biblical promises were made to the poor, that the gospel could be preached only to the poor because they alone had the freedom to hear it without distorting it for their own purposes. He wanted to have nothing to protect except the love which made all else useless. "Love is not loved! Love is not loved!" he used to sigh.
Near Occasions of Grace, Richard Rohr

I have so far to go.

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