In today’s gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14), we are asked to honor the poor, the sick, the blind and the needy: those who are not on the “A List” – but rather are neglected and made to feel unwanted. Fr. Ron Rolheiser has written a wonderful insight into this gospel on the St. Luis University Sunday Website. He writes:
“Our world revolves around those who are strong, attractive and active. We see beauty and worth in the pretty, the un-sick, the young and the talented. They are the roses whose attention, affection, and autographs we court. It is they we would put on our mantel. Conversely, we find the sick, the handicapped, the aged, the unattractive, the wounded and the non-achievers a nuisance.”
Today’s mass was said by visiting Capuchin Franciscan Priest Father Bob, who is asked us for prayers supporting the Capuchin missions in Northern Mexico. These missions are a perfect opportunity to fulfill the requirements of today’s gospel. He asked us if any of us knew who Conrad Erslinger was. Nobody raised their hand. Then he asked us who knew St. Francis of Assisi? He explained that the former individual was a prominent civic leader and contemporary of St. Francis, now forgotten. St. Francis, who abandoned his wealthy family and lifestyle to serve the poor and disenfranchised, is of course, world known and loved. Fr. Bob told us that initially, Francis wanted worldly fame and recognition. He had an unsuccessful military career, participating in a war with Perugia which wound up with him in jail. Only the soldiers from wealthy families were taken hostage; the rest were slaughtered – a horrific lesson for young Francis in the ethics of the world. His adventures as a knight were equally unfulfilling. After dreams, meditation and prayer, his conversion culminated in his encounter with the leper. Fr. Bob points out the irony that after removing himself from the center and reordering his life in a Christ centered way, he found the peace and joy that the world had not offered him – and is remembered by the world today.
Fr. Bob told us of the needs of the community for basics – medicine, gas, food – as well as the dangers of the drug trafficking in the region. Today’s second collection was donated to the Capuchin Franciscan friars. For more information, visit the website for the Western American Province of the Capuchin Franciscans.