On the occasion of the Solemnity of Our Father St Francis, at 7.00 a.m. this morning, the Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, presided at Mass at the high altar of the Lower Basilica of St Francis in Assisi.
We publish below the homily that the Minister delivered during the Eucharistic Celebration:
We have heard Jesus’ cry of joy, praising the Father for revealing to the little ones his plan of love. This hymn is set in a context of crisis, at times dramatic. Jesus has suffered rejection from the leaders of the people and misunderstanding from his own disciples: his ministry is radically tested. Praise and joy explode in crisis and rejection. Is this not the reasoning behind the Beatitudes? Beatitude flourishes in the most humanly difficult situations.
It is in this ‘inverted’ reasoning of the Beatitudes that another word of Jesus resounds, asking those who are weary and oppressed to move towards him. Do not remain paralysed in fatigue, but rather experience it as an opportunity for a new step. After all, even Jesus, in the trial of his ministry, does not stop but praises the Father and calls the disciples to follow him.
The yoke is that of the covenant, which the Lord offers as a path of freedom to his people, bringing refreshment, peace, and new life.
Jesus’ cry of joy that we read in this liturgy reminds us of the narrative of the perfect joy that Francis dictated between the Stigmata and his death, after having lived a time of trial within his own fraternity and with himself concerning his evangelical vocation.
In the form of a narrative that Francis dictates to Br Leo, the friend of Christ announces that his boast does not lie in worldly success, in the greatness of the Order, or the success of the mission. The boast, the embrace of Christ to the world and ours to him on the cross, lies in being rejected, thrown out, unrecognised.
The boast lies in living according to the Gospel to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Not in just any way or complaining, but in patience and without disturbance. It is life according to the Beatitudes!
This word of the Gospel, which we see fulfilled in the meek and humble life of St Francis, speaks powerfully to us at this dramatic moment in history, when peace is under serious threat. We sense with grave concern what is happening and what could happen in the face of possible nuclear attacks. We strongly feel the threat to our lives, and at the same time, our weakness and powerlessness before a force that we feel is so violent.
This painful experience reminds us all of the reality of death, as St Francis wrote in his letter to the rulers of peoples: the best antidote to the blind violence of war is precisely the memory of our own limitation and death so as not to believe ourselves omnipotent and give in to this instinct. While many lose their lives because of conflicts, let us remember the gift and life in the context of Christ’s Passover, and let us not give in to fear and withdrawal into our private lives. St Francis called death, which is hateful to all, a sister and therefore opened the way for us to experience the reality of the end differently.
In this spirit, St Francis invites us to choose peace through concrete gestures and words so as not to give in to the culture of violence and resignation.
Let us entrust all those who suffer from war, especially today in Ukraine, those who attack and are devoured by hatred and fear, to the intercession of Francis, herald of peace.