He bore witness that the Word of God is a Word of Love that God announces to all of us, to the world, to history and, like a light breeze, caresses our life, so often wrought with difficulties these days.He bore witness that the Word of God is an effective Word that fulfils its mission.
He bore witness that the Word of God carries within it the struggle of all flesh and our entire journey towards the fullness of God.
He bore witness here in Rome that a Church in prayer with, and for Peter is a Church marching towards the Risen Christ.
He bore witness, as a Prophet, to the suffering of being misunderstood and also derided by the prophets of doom.
He bore witness to the Joy of Christmas.
He bore witness that the Holy Communion is not a rite but a way of life, of eternal life.
His witnessing has continued throughout the centuries, starting with the lepers he met on his way, right up to the lepers of our time.
Our society aspires to the great principles of equality and fraternity so dear to the Enlightenment as well as to Christian principles but finds itself in the impossible position of squaring the circle. Our society fools itself that it wants to include the outcasts, (the immigrants, illegal immigrants, those of no fixed abode, prison inmates) within itself, in its towns, but without success. Why doesn’t it succeed?
It doesn’t succeed because our society would have to challenge itself, in its constituent principles and it doesn’t have the courage to do so. In fact we should say we don’t have the courage to do so.
Saint Francis had the courage to challenge himself, society and the Church of his times; and another Francis, another society and another Church began.
Today we find ourselves in times of great disquiet, anxiety. There are various kinds of anxiety. There are, unfortunately, unhealthy, evil, violent, racist, egoistic and bourgeois anxieties.
Instead, healthy anxiety stems from the desire to open wide the boundaries of our cities, so there is space also for those who have been outcast and this stems from the need to update the standards of our society, so that violence does not grow within us; this is already happening.
This healthy, moral, legal, political and religious disquiet is the last shred of our dignity.
Saint Francis also bore witness to the dignity of man, of all men.
Saint Francis bears witness to us that Jesus went among the lepers of all times, to teach them to stop saying they were unclean, to look at our cities and discover they are very often unclean. This is the Christian revolution, the reversal. If we pray with the Beatitudes we can see that our cities have indeed become unclean.
We ask Saint Francis to intercede so no one of us transforms Jesus into an accommodating prophet, one adapted to the standards our society.
We ask him to intercede with the Lord to broaden our horizons, our spaces, our hearts to welcome the needy of all times and always.