The next prompt in Writing in the Margins caught me a little off guard: “Psalm 86:12 echoes the affirmation of Francis of Assisi, Deus Meus, Mea Omnia (My God and My All). In the margins next to Psalm 86:12, or anywhere else that seems apt, write Assisi’s cry.”
I read Psalm 86 a number of times. I also read and reflected on the life of St. Francis. To me, St. Francis’ heart-felt cry seems to belong to the passage that spoke directly to him, claiming his life and setting his course:
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for you belts, no bag for you journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10: 8-14)
According to the story, the instruction that St. Francis received from God was to rebuild the church, and the ever-literal St. Francis set to work on repairing the physical structures of churches. St. Francis also rebuilt the church in a more figurative way by reading the Gospel of Matthew and putting Christ’s words into effect. He cared for the poor and the sick. He read Jesus instructions to the twelve apostles and astonishingly he followed them. He offered his life as a living sacrifice, imitating Christ in all that he did. His love for God was reflected in a deep love and affection for all of God’s creation, birds and animals, too. His legacy includes the Franciscan orders, the beautiful canticle of creation, the first nativity scene, and the prayer that found itself into the margins of my page. I considered adding a prayer card with his picture or drawing St. Francis, but St. Francis lived to point others to the cross (my hope is that you can see just a hint of St. Francis in the cross, too!):
Reflecting on the life of St. Francis reminds me what it means to love God and what it means to be holy. It helps me remember that though the canon of the Bible ends with Revelation, God’s story continues through the tradition of the church, which incorporates stories of the lives of saints whether they be canonized like St. Francis or un-canonized like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The witness and example of Christians who came before us is such a blessing! Reflecting on the lives of saints can draw us right back to the Word as we reflect on the passages that meant the most to them.