Giovanni di Pietro di Bernadone, also known as St. Francis of Assisi is one of my favorite ‘holy men.’ He is a saint for all people, Christian and non-Christian alike. He was a man who simply loved to the fullest of his human ability. His love was unconditional, unwavering and relentless. War inflicts immense damage to the body and mind of people and such was the case with Francis. Upon his return from the crusades in the Middle East, Francis was changed; he underwent an epiphany. His mind and his heart could no longer entertain hatred nor the allure of earthly riches. There was no room in his life for such negative forces. Rather, he exuded an almost other-worldly level of love and simplicity.
Francis possessed another virtuous quality; the capacity to share from his scarcity and limited possessions, without counting the cost and always for the betterment and well being of others. He and his followers abandoned earthly wealth and heartily embraced the Scriptural passage of “storing one’s treasures in heaven.” Mind you, Francis came from a rather ‘well-to-do’ family. He was accustomed to a higher standard of life, complete with fine foods, comfortable surroundings and all the benefits that wealth affords. Nonetheless, he turned his back on earthly affluence so he and his followers could better live a life in keeping with Christ and His disciples; poor, without a home and relying upon the kindness and generosity of others.
There comes a feeling of happiness; an interior joy and peace of mind when we share from the heart. When we see some one react and respond to the kindness shown by others, well now, there is nothing greater nor more satisfying. I have no doubt that my thoughts as expressed here in writing is the case for all of us, in practice and in the day-to-day experiences we encounter. The 15 years I spent operating a nightly, soup kitchen provided me a mountain of encounters when sharing and caring was met with smiles, tears of happiness and the most affectionate of “thank you and God bless you.” Let me tell you, I went home each night feeling I was the richest man in the world. This richness did not put me into a higher tax bracket. Blessedly, this richness drew me closer to Jesus, our brother and our savior.
It is Jesus’ example of total and complete surrender for the well-being and benefit of others that I strive to replicate and live out. I continue to experience Jesus more and more through the people of our faith community, our church family, our St. Nicholas Episcopal Church. The consistent generosity and selflessness of our church members is such an inspiration and blessing. God provides; always has and always will. Then again, the community of St. Nicholas, following the examples of Jesus, St. Francis and our patron saint does an outstanding, wonderful and humbling job at sharing, from the heart, for the betterment of others and for the strengthening and growth of our church. Let us be mindful during this, our 2018 Stewardship Campaign of the joy and blessing of sharing and providing, for the betterment of our church and always, first and foremost, for God’s greater glory. Thank you, each and everyone for the time and consideration taken toward this very important matter. As St. Francis prayed once and we continue to respond…”Make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is doubt, true faith in you.”