St. Francis of Assisi modeled for us how to share the Good News during troubling times
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
As our country prepares for a presidential election, our neighborhoods are dotted with signs encouraging residents to vote for one candidate or the other. In the midst of all the hype surrounding the election I recently noticed a number of signs around our parish property and on the street where I live. Black and white, and of the same size as the presidential signs, they carry a simple but profound message: “God for a change!”
Celebrating the feast of St. Francis this year, we can aptly connect those words to the era in which the poor man of Assisi lived. In the thirteenth century the Church was involved in the Crusades. Little wars, too, were being fought between towns in Italy. Churches were dirty and in some cases, falling apart. Ignorance of the Catholic Faith prevailed among the laity.
Traveling through a town shouting, “Love is not loved”, Francis called the people’s attention to the most important relationship in their lives. Through his emphasis on the humanity of Jesus and his focus on the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Eucharist, Francis led the people to a deep awareness of the Presence of God in their medieval culture. St. Francis and his followers, through their preaching to the common folk in the streets, brought about a spiritual renewal in a time of upheaval. The people turned to God for a change.
Our call and challenge in today’s secular society should be obvious. Can we meet people where they are? Can the Church truly be a field hospital? Can we enlighten people’s understanding of their Faith? Can we lead them to a deeper experience of the most important relationship in their lives? Are we willing to bring about “God for a change”?