Francis lived at a time when there was much need for reform in the Church.
He started life the son of wealthy parents in Assisi.
He was caught up in fun loving and was not overzealous about living by all Christian practices as a young man.
Having gone through a religious conversion, he decided to leave everything and follow Christ. Francis took this seriously and literally. He left the comfort of his parents’ home and became a beggar.
He heard Christ telling him to rebuild His church. Francis took this to mean repairing the small old church of San Damiano in Assisi. He started physically repairing the church structure. Eventually he understood Christ telling him to rebuild, renew the actual church itself, i.e. the community of faith.
Soon many others began to follow him attracted by the ideal of living the Gospel life fully and in a simple way.
Francis was treated with suspicion by many of the establishment in his time, even by many church people. He challenged privileged power and greed. He embraced poverty and simplicity.
Francis loved all of creation and preached about God’s love for all of creation.
He called for a privileged place for the poor and those in need.
The Pope at the time could see God’s hand in Francis and approved the new Order we now call the Franciscans.
Francis suffered a lot personally in his own lifetime, even from members of his own Order who found it hard to live the very simple and poor lifestyle that he advocated.
St. Francis is a great prophet for our times.
He calls us to faith and trust in God.
He calls us to ecological conversion.
He calls us not to be greedy.
Not to be trapped in materialism.
To love all of God’s creation.
To give generously of ourselves.
To have a true love of neighbour.
To be instruments of peace and forgiveness.
And much more.