FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS
Homily, Basilica of Saint Francis
04.10.2021 - Mt 11:25-30I invite you to return to the Gospel that we have heard and that Francis lived in such a way that Jesus Christ, who is the Word incarnate, made him equal to himself. First of all, I would like to share three little thoughts with you. Firstly. The joy of Jesus manifested in praise of the Father for his revelation to the simple and their acceptance of the message of salvation. The Jews thought that those who had knowledge, those who understood, were worthy of God's revelation, but for Jesus, it is not like that. Jesus has other criteria; he always surprises us. He looks at reality in a different way. Secondly. Jesus shows us his identity, his intimacy, his soul. He speaks of his special relationship with his Father and his deep desire to embrace us with our weaknesses and frailties, with all that we are and have. Thirdly. Jesus addresses the afflicted and burdened with the promise that in him, they will find rest. Recognizing Jesus as the Servant and Lord, they will find ways of freedom; they will be his disciples, discovering that the joy of a disciple is to follow Jesus and follow in his footsteps. The people listening to him were tired, surely like many of us. Yet, Jesus' voice was surely like a waterfall of living water. Those who listened to Jesus are simple people, but they are able to understand and accept the newness of Jesus' message, which transforms their lives and their outlook. Jesus' invitation is to follow him, as our brother Francis did. Following Jesus is an experience that liberates and gives joy even in the midst of our own tiredness and disenchantment. Do you find yourself tired? What are your projects, your struggles, your sufferings? Jesus invites you, and he invites us: come to me, and you will find rest. It is an invitation always open to the future. I ask myself, and I ask you, why and for what purpose are we gathered here, why have you come to this blessed city of Assisi? The answer seems obvious, and we can all answer in a single cry: to celebrate St. Francis. But on a deeper level, I invite each person to look within and try to find an answer to the question, Why and for what purpose have I come? Perhaps I have come out of tradition, out of habit. I have come to offer my worries, my health, my problems, the life of my family, of my Christian and parish community. I have come simply to celebrate this great and small saint who has changed the history of the world and of the Church in his time and in every age, as well as in the present. Surely you have thought of some other answers to the question, and it is good that this is the case. I also believe that we are here, dear brothers and sisters, pilgrims so that we are not overcome by indifference to what is happening around us. To discover and recognize that the path of evangelical poverty and fraternity is the Franciscan way of acknowledging that we are all brothers and sisters, as Pope Francis invites us to do in his letter Fratelli Tutti. I believe that we are here so that we can all renew our commitment to make this world a home, a better home, where there is peace, justice and care for life. A place where gestures of tenderness are cultivated and all forms of violence and domination are banished. Beginning this endeavour in the place where everyone lives and works. We have come here so that Francis and Clare may help us walk the world's roads being welcoming and in dialogue with everyone, especially with migrants and with those who think and believe differently. We are here, dear brothers and sisters, so that in the light of the experience of Francis, we can make our own journey of conversion and encounter with the poor and crucified Jesus, sustained by the joy of the Risen Christ. We have come so that Francis may make us men and women who believe in and are passionate about Jesus Christ. To help us see in depth the reality of the human heart and every social, political, cultural and religious structure that makes millions of people invisible as if they did not exist. We Franciscans who live on the five continents have come to Assisi this year to ask St. Francis to accompany us from this sacred place to bring to life the renewing invitations that the friars gathered at the recently celebrated General Chapter offered us: an invitation to gratitude, an invitation to renew our vision, an invitation to conversion and penance, an invitation to mission and evangelization, an invitation to embrace our future. These exhortations are a beautiful itinerary to witness with our lives to the Mercy that God has and will always have for humanity and all creation. I conclude this homily by inviting you to repeat three times the words of hope that Jesus speaks to us in today's Gospel: Come to me, and I will bring you rest.