Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
This is the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi whose feast day we celebrate today. Given the world events, it seems like a good calling for each of us. The massacre that happened in the United States has shocked the hearts of people once again. Today’s readings also discuss the sadness in the world. The first reading from Nehemiah 2 uses the phrase, this can only be sadness of the heart. Nehemiah has never been so sad in the presence of the king before. In Psalm 137, we hear the story of those who sat by the rivers of Babylon and wept as they remembered Zion. It is hard to sing the Lord’s song some days. In the Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus says that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head but he invites people still to follow him. Each one comes up with an excuse but Jesus reminds them that they need to plough ahead to reach the kingdom of God.
How do we manage in these dark times? All seems folly. Hope dangles by a thin thread. Natural disasters have decimated small communities and left others still standing. Black lives still don’t seem to matter unless they are the focus of fear. White privilege makes it hard to move forward with compassion and mercy to to lack of understanding. We need the words of St. Francis today so that where there is hatred, we will sow love, where there is despair, hope, and where there is sadness ever joy. This is part of ploughing full speed ahead in order to reach the kingdom of God. We cannot turn back. We cannot be distracted by rhetoric that confuses and disturbs us. We need to hold fast to Gospel principles. We need to seek forgiveness and understanding.
Francis was a prayerful man who has something to teach us. We must be a source of faith, planters of hope, illuminators of the darkness, and joyful ministers whenever possible, especially during times when all seems lost. There is beauty in this world beyond all of our imaginings. Goodness runs deep in the hearts of most people. Hope stands the best chance with us as collaborators. Hold fast, my friends. Love will have the final word.
What in the world is causing your despair today? Can you bring hope to the situation?
What gospel principles buoy you up?
Holy One, crying in the streets, may we bring you hope, strength, and courage. You are the One crucified again, slain by your own creation. Steady our hand on the plough and let us move towards the Kingdom. There is much work yet to be done. Amen