3. A Message Addressed to All

Meeting many people who lived on the margins of society, St. Francis saw an opportunity to realize and practice the Gospel. He wanted to proclaim it to a world that was full of selfishness and pride and needed the Good News. He saw a contradiction between faith and people’s lives. Preaching appeared to be the necessary response to the reality he was facing. This was confirmed for him through prayer, by his opening the book of the Gospel three times, and even more by the pope’s approval of the lifestyle that he wanted for himself and his own. Innocent III blessed Francis and his companions and said: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as the Lord will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to all” (1 Cel 33; FF 375).

Francis was strongly convinced that he had been sent by God to all people. He saw no obstacle in the fact that he was a simple and uneducated man. “During the course of the eighteen years which by then had passed, his flesh rarely or never had any rest, as he traveled through many distant regions, so that the willing spirit, the devout spirit, and the fervent spirit which dwelt within him might scatter everywhere the seed of the word of God. He filled the whole world with the Gospel of Christ; in the course of one day often visiting four or five towns and villages, proclaiming to each one the good news of the kingdom of God, edifying his listeners by his example as much as by his words, as he made of his whole body a tongue” (1 Cel 97; FF 488). In his sermons, he presented the fundamental contents of the Gospel, communicating them through various forms of expression, such as gesturing, weeping or even, as at Greccio, presenting a living image.

Even his illness, in its initial stages, did not prevent the Poverello of Assisi from preaching. He was weak in body but strong in spirit. He walked the earth and when he could no longer continue on foot, he rode a donkey. When he was overcome by physical weakness, he reached people through letters so that they might still hear Jesus’s words. This confirms what Francis said in his Letter to the faithful: “Therefore, realizing that I could not visit each one of you personally because of sickness and the weakness of my body, I decided to offer you in this letter and message the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Word of the Father, and the words of the Holy Spirit, which are spirit and life” (2Lf 3; FF 180). Our Seraphic Father was courageous in addressing the Word of God to everyone without exception; not only to the friars but also to the people he met and to all the rulers as well. This no doubt sprang from his adherence to Christ. Contemplating the presence of the Lord and meditating on His life, Francis became inflamed with the love that prompted him do mission.

Friar Dariusz MAZUREK General Delegate for Missionary Animation

Based on:
MANSELLI R., Francisco de Asís entre conversión del mundo cristiano y conversión del mundo islámico. ¿Una relación atípica?, in: Para mejor conocer a san Francisco de Asís, Oñate (Guipúzcoa) 1997.
IRIARTE DE ASPURZ L., Vocación franciscana, Valencia 1975.
LADJAR L. L., Formación en el espíritu de evangelización, SelFr 53 (1989) 226-242.
Wczesne źródła franciszkańskie, vols. I-II, Warsaw 1981.
GEMINI A., Franciszkanizm, Warsaw 1988.

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