So how is Francis of Assisi relevant today? Well, there are the obvious ways-he is patron saint of the environment and we want to protect mother earth; he is a friend of all creatures (suggest reading Canticle to the Creatures); and his movement continues to serve the poor and Christ in all that they try to do.
But I believe Francis is more relevant to us in a secular way than religious. You see Francis was all about tolerance and love. He refused, during his life to fight with people that disagreed with him. He often had to listen to people abuse him because of his lifestyle. He even ventured to the Holy Land to try to talk to the Muslim leader Saladin to negotiate with the crusaders who were trying to take back the Holy Land (one can make our own judgement who was more right and who was more wrong when it comes to the crusades). And when he met with Saladin, rather than behead him as was the custom he talked to him and then showed him safe passage back out of the Muslim camp.
Francis shows us not only something about Christian / Muslim relations, he shows us something about relations between us, those of us right here in the United States and the world who seemingly have grown so far apart politically, theologically, socially, that civil discourse isn’t possible.
Our friend Francis says God created us all; God loves us all; we are to love each other the same way.
Francis was partial to Jesus’ great command: ‘love one another, as I have loved you.’ That’s the message of Francis of Assisi.
See you Sunday.