Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | September 29, 2017

Lectionary Reflection: St. Francis Sunday

Blog|The Rev. Canon Mark Stanger

Jeremiah 22:13-16; Galatians 6:14-18; Matthew 11:25-30

Today we replace our regular Sunday observance with the commemoration of St. Francis of Assisi for whom the city of San Francisco is named. Francis is one of those few saints with almost universal recognition and appeal. During the 13th century, Francis and his associate, Clare, inspired a spirit of simplicity, active care for the poorest of the poor and an appreciation for the divine imprint in all creatures. Franciscan ideals continue to enliven and challenge us today.

Paul’s letter to the Galatians cries out against both the new age and old time religions of his time: only “a new creation” matters. A new creation means sacrificing ego so that we might open up to the divine presence and impulse within and around us. This death of the ego –– the cross –– is the sign of throwing ourselves body and soul into the world’s repair and renewal. Beyond sentimentality, the life-changing sacrifices needed for peacemaking are revealed in the mystery of the cross. Tradition holds that Francis manifested marks of crucifixion –– the stigmata –– as a visible sign of his identification with the outpouring love of Christ.

Jesus calls the yoke of service both easy and light, if taken up in the spirit of love. His humility, which Francis embraced, remains a challenge for individual Christians and for the whole body of the Church.

Today our pets are blessed as a token of the love St. Francis showed for all created beings, in whom one day the final glory of Christ’s triumph will be revealed completely. Our share in the Eucharistic meal gives us a foretaste of the destiny we will share with the glorified Jesus –– all of creation renewed in perfect love, beginning now with this assembly gathered in praise and thanksgiving.

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