“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life” (a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226).
Several denominations commemorate St. Francis of Assisi on October 4. He was born to a wealthy family, but soon found that his devotion to Christ put him at odds with his family. On one occasion, he was in church and felt that Jesus was saying to him, “Francis, repair my falling house.” Francis took this literally, sold a bale of silk from his father’s warehouse, and used to proceeds to make repairs to the church building. Maybe Francis should have asked for his father’s permission first. His father was enraged and, after a confrontation, disowned Francis. Francis, in turn, renounced his family’s wealth. Some accounts say that he not only handed any money that he had back to his father, but that he also removed his clothes, gave them to his father, and walked away naked.
He devoted the rest of his life to serving Christ by ministering to the poor. Taking a vow of poverty, he continued to make repairs to the local church building, cared for the sick, and ministered to the poor. Eventually, others joined him in his endeavors. Today, the Franciscan order of monks continues his work, and ministries in other denominations follow in his footsteps as well.
Francis and his brothers/colleagues followed Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10:7-10:
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support” (Matthew 10:7-10, NASB).
One important lesson we can learn from Francis’ life is to be God’s instruments. Francis’ famous prayer asks God to “make me an instrument of Your peace,” that we might bring His glory and blessings wherever darkness, evil, sorrow, and suffering dominate. He asked to be used by God to bless others, instead of seeking blessings for himself.
- When we see something wrong, ask what we can do to change it.
- Instead of seeking blessings, ask God to show us how to be a blessing to others.
- Seek joy by making others’ lives better instead of seeking personal comfort.
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Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.