One comes to Assisi to learn from St Francis the secret
of recognizing Jesus Christ and experiencing him. This is what Francis
felt about Jesus, according to what his first biographer narrates: "He
always carried Jesus in his heart. Jesus on his lips, Jesus in his ears,
Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in all his other
members.... Rather, finding himself travelling often and meditating on
and singing of Jesus, he would forget that he was travelling and would
invite all creatures to praise Jesus" (cf. 1 Cel II, 9, 115). Thus, we see that communion with Jesus also opens the heart and eyes to creation.
In a word, Francis was truly in love with Jesus. He met
him in the Word of God, in the brethren, in nature, but above all in the
Eucharistic Presence. Concerning this he wrote in his Testament: "In
this world, I see nothing corporally of the same Most High Son of God
except in his Most Holy Body and Most Holy Blood" (cf. 2 Test. 10).
Christmas at Greccio expresses the need to contemplate him in his tender humanity as a baby (cf. 1 Cel I, 30, 85-86).
The experience of La Verna, where he received the
stigmata, shows the degree of intimacy he had reached in his
relationship with the Crucified Christ. He could truly say with Paul:
"For me to live is Christ" (Phil 1: 21).
If he rids himself of everything and chooses poverty,
the reason for all of this is Christ, and only Christ. Jesus is his all:
he is enough!
Exactly because he is of Christ, Francis is also a man of the Church. From the Crucifix of San Damiano he heard the direction to repair the house of Christ, which is precisely the Church.
There is an intimate and indissoluble relationship
between Christ and the Church. To be called to repair it certainly
implies, in the mission of Francis, something that is his own and
original. At the same time, this duty, after all, was none other than
the responsibility that Christ attributes to every baptized person. To
every one of us he also says: "Go and repair my house".
We are all called to repair in every generation the
house of Christ, the Church, anew. And only by doing this does the
Church live and become beautiful. And as we know, there are many ways to
repair, to edify, to build the house of God, the Church. One also
edifies through the different vocations, from the lay and family
vocation, to the life of special consecration, to the priestly vocation.
- His Holiness Benedict XVI
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