St. Francis

Yesterday, October 4, was the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  To honor him my hope is that we do more than bless animals or put up a bird bath.  We in the USA are in sore need of Francis’ perspective. In an age of labels and division; in a time of a political split in our nation and in a time riddled with distrust, we need the near-sighted view of this saint.
In his wonderful book on St. Francis, G. K. Chesterton writes this, “Now for St. Francis nothing was ever in the background. WE might say his mind had no background…. In a word, we talk about a man who cannot see the wood for the trees. St. Francis was a man who did not want to see the wood for the trees.  He wanted to see each tree as a separate and almost sacred thing, being a child of God and therefore a brother or sister of man.”
Francis wasn’t interested in categories; he was fascinated by the person, animal, or thing in front of him because he was certain if he looked closely enough and if his heart and mind were pure, he would see the face of Jesus.
We are cursed by primarily seeing the forest.  Perhaps there is so much information that the only way we can survive is through labels or categories. It may be that the media gives us these labels and we adopt them without reflection. Who knows the cause?
We do know the effect, however.  We see what we expect to see and so did Francis. The difference is that Francis always expected to see the face of Jesus while too often we expect to see a label or a cause or a mirror of our own preoccupations.  May we celebrate this saint by cleansing our eyes.  Before our categorization machine starts, let us ask Francis to intercede for us and help us see the other not as a label, but as a child of God, a window to the holy, a representation of our Lord.  Instead of the forest, let’s look at the tree. If we do, then we and the world will be made new.