08 Oct Hope is the radical refusal to put limits on what God can do for us | Homily for the Feast of our Holy Father St. Francis 2018
As is traditional on October 4th, a member of the Order of Preachers presided and preached at the General Curia’s Solemn Eucharist on the Feast of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi. This year the preacher was Br. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP, the Asia-Pacific councilor, parts of whose sermon we share below — for the complete text (in Italian), click here.
Homily for the Feast of our Holy Father St. Francis, 2018
Br. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, OP
St. Francis and St. Dominic lived at a time when the Church, just as today, desperately needed to engage in anew evangelization. It’s not hard to imagine that these saints were friends, because both of them are friends of Christ. As Pope Benedict writes in Deus Caritas Est 18, “I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend.” Francis and Domenic are friends because they are friends of Jesus.
We are gathered here as friends because in the Eucharist we celebrate the love that comes from friendship with Jesus. Communion is a grace that comes from the Eucharist, and the Church is “sign and instrument both of a very closely-knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”. Therefore, building the Body of Christ is building communion.
But our Church today suffers from divisions. The body of Christ is wounded. It seems that some members of the Church cannot understand that when they inflict pain on other members, they actually hurt themselves. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer together,” says St. Paul. Pope Francis knows that divisions slowly destroy the Church. Two years ago, he said in a homily: “the devil has two powerful weapons for destroying the Church: division and money…the divisions in the Church do not allow the kingdom of God to grow. Instead the divisions make you see only this part, and the other part is opposed to this: always opposed, there is no oil of unity, the balm of unity.”
Pope Francis has correctly understood that divisions and greed are the diabolical diseases afflicting the Church today. And St. Francis offers the Church two powerful antidotes: fraternity and evangelical poverty.
St. Francis listened to Jesus at the church of San Damiano: “Go and repair my church which, as you see, is in ruins”. We know that the church of San Damiano is a metaphor for the entire Church. While Francis listened to the voice of Jesus from the cross, he also embraced his own cross. We all know how difficult it is to carry our crosses, and Francis bore his very well.
In today’s Gospel we listen to an invitation that is the most caring and tender invitation heard from Jesus. It is different to his other invitations which involve sacrifices, for example: “take your cross and follow me” or “go and sell everything, then come and follow me“. In this particular invitation, we deeply feel Jesus’ tender affection: “Come to me, all you who are weary and oppressed, and I will give you rest … learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart“.
St. Francis embraced the cross of Jesus and rebuilt the Church. Let us try to honor him by helping him build the Church of our time. Let’s do it with hope in our hearts, because “Hope is the radical refusal to put limits on what God can do for us”.
Lumen Gentium, 1.
Pope Francis, Morning Meditation in the Chapel ofDomus Sanctae Marthae, “We Are All Corinthians”, Monday, September 12th, 2016