Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel


"If we had any possessions we should need weapons and laws to defend them."

It was a gentle response to his critics.

His lifestyle—the one he was sharing with a growing band of ragamuffins—was driving a handful of bishops up the wall. What could they do? You cannot punitively take from those with no regard for “mine”.

As far as Francis could see, there wasn’t a whole lot of life in playing defense ‘til you die. That was what possessions did. They put you on defense. For the young Frenchman now among the most celebrated figures in sacred history, possessing something was the death of love. He preferred to be possessed by God’s love for the dispossessed.

And so he began to nurse lepers in the houses near Assisi. He traveled to Rome, where he was moved to join the poor in begging outside the churches. There, a vision of Christ led him to sell silk from his father’s store to assist the priest of a struggling church. With threats and beatings, his father attempted to change the course of things.

But the course of Francis’ life was irreversible. It remains distilled in the simple rule he composed for his followers in the year1209: “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps.”

There are several accounts of how the rule extended to animals. “St. Francis Preaches to the Birds” and “St. Francis, Rabbits, and Fish” and “St. Francis and the Wolf”…these are all worth searching out and taking in.

In the way that Jesus called forth Bartimaeus, making it abundantly clear that the one shushed by crowd was beloved in God’s eyes (v.48), Francis paid close attention to those without recourse—which is another way of saying, he blessed the overlooked, the ones who couldn’t fuss or whose fuss carried no weight.

Stand still once this week (v.49). Preach to the birds. Let the birds preach to you Think “mine” less and “ours by the grace of God” more. Honor a simple rule like ‘to follow the teachings…and to walk…’ Be a friend to what lives in your midst.

UncategorizedRachel May