2. Invitation to Preaching
According to the story from Thomas of Celano (cf. 2 Cel 10 – FF 593) St. Francis heard the voice of Christ in San Damiano calling for the restoration of the Church. The voice concerned the mission that our Saint was to undertake in the universal Church. In fact, history has shown that Jesus wanted more than the reconstruction of a few nearby churches, because when the first friars arrived, Francis understood that they had a common task to accomplish, a task that concerned salvation—not only for themselves—but for others, too.
No spiritual director helped him discover this task; God himself taught him how he should live. The Gospel became Francis’ benchmark. He said so himself in his Testament: “…I should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel.” (Test 14-FF 116). In 1208, during Mass, he heard the passage about Jesus sending forth his disciples. The text may have come from the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus sends forth the twelve (cf. Mt 10:5-15), or from the Gospel of Luke, which describes the sending of the seventy-two (cf. Lk 10:1-16).
St. Bonaventure attributed the passage to Matthew and described the event as follows: “One day while he [St. Francis] was devoutly hearing a Mass of the Apostles, the Gospel was read in which Christ sends out his disciples to preach and gives them the Gospel form of life, that they may not keep gold or silver or money in their belts, nor have a wallet for their journey, nor may they have two tunics, nor shoes, nor staff. Hearing, understanding, and committing this to memory, this friend of apostolic poverty was then overwhelmed with an indescribable joy. ‘This is what I want,’ he said, ‘this is what I desire with all my heart!’ Immediately, he took off the shoes from his feet, put down his staff, denounced his wallet and money, and, satisfied with one tunic, threw away his leather belt and put on a piece of rope for a belt. He directed all his heart’s desire to carry out what he had heard and to conform in every way to the rule of right living given to the apostles” (Leg Mag III 1 – FF 1051).
Inspired by these words, St Francis, in his apostolic zeal, was guided by nothing but love, and under its inspiration he wanted to discern how to serve the Lord and, at the same time, respond with his own life to “the Love that is not loved.” In his heart, he faced a dilemma—whether he should dedicate himself to contemplation or to action. Most importantly, he chose to follow Jesus. Thus, he chose the will of God, desiring at the same time to immerse himself deeply in the mission of Christ. Moreover, God’s will was revealed to him in part by Sylvester and Clare: “Through a miraculous revelation of the Spirit, the venerable priest and the virgin dedicated to God came to the same conclusion: that it was the divine good will that the herald of Christ should preach” (Leg Mag XII 2 – FF 1205). We will talk about Francis beginning to preach in the next article.
Friar Dariusz MAZUREK, General Delegate for Mission Animation
AEBY G., DELESTY H., CHAIGMAT B., En la escuela de san Francisco, Barcelona 1968.
IRIARTE DE ASPURZ L., Vocación franciscana, Valencia 1975.
SCHMUCKI O., Descubrimiento gradual de la forma de vida evangélica por Francisco de Asís, Selecc. Fr. 46 (1987) 65-128.
Wczesne źródła franciszkańskie, vol. I-II, Warszawa 1981.
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