Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘The Gospel of Francis and Claire’
God be with you ...
I like these words from the Gospel of Matthew. "Wisdom will be vindicated by her own actions" (Matthew 11:19). Jesus speaks the words with queer reference to John the Baptiser and to himself ... In reference to a spirituality both earnest and lighthearted. The stories of Giovanni/Francis and Claire keep us close to this kind of spirituality. The Holy Spirit is imaged as a woman, not unlike Claire herself, who inspires austerity and good humour in the name of love for a world too often the site of brutality -
How poignant the legendary story that accompanies the icon of St Claire by Mercedes Ptak. Francis and Claire were walking in the snow, and upon coming to a cross-
I discern a wisdom in the reference to a cross-
Wisdom will be vindicated by her own actions. It's a simple statement, too, about the importance of actions. Faith as action. Love as action -
"Abba God, Creator of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the youngest children" (11:25). Jesus speaks these words in the context of a religious-
I picked up a children's book at a street stall in Manhattan called St Francis Preaches to the Birds. It features brightly painted woodblock prints in a naive style. The text is very simple. In the eyes and heart of a child I wonder what is revealed. St Francis is depicted as a contemporary of ours who wakes, sings, cleans and cares for his own body, acknowledges the goodness of food, the goodness of urban and rural life, and gives thanks over and over. The birds are allowed to come, to flock and to fly, to do their own thing, to inspire ... And "then St Francis preaches to the birds ... Until the sun sets ... Yes! Until the sun sets". The final words of the little book are "Good night".
There's a lot to discern, again. The word "good", though, is compelling. How important and how valuable it is to keep in touch with goodness. To have examples of goodness. Individuals, stories, desires. Lest exploitation and resignation (and sheer violence) prevail. Thank God, thank goodness for every gentle and persistent drive/effort/work toward respect and understanding.
The South Sydney Herald has recently recommitted to making space for Muslim expressions of faith and hope. It's so lazy to allow hateful expressions of religious fervour (of whatever alleged tradition) to dominate. In the context of a subtle and not so subtle Islamophobia, it's irresponsible. We can be thankful for the opportunity we have as writers, editors and publishers to contribute, however modestly, toward greater respect and understanding.
There are Franciscan interfaith resources we would be wise to investigate. This DVD is called In the Footprints of Francis and the Sultan: A Model for Peacemaking. It's now a resource of our St Lydia's Library and I think would be a wonderful Friday-
"Here you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (11:29-
Not easy in the sense of trouble-
It wasn't "easy" for Francis and Claire to live without the comforts and securities of middle-
It's right that we smile and laugh today. In the company of those, thanks to Francis and Claire and thanks to God, we are blessed to call companions, friends. Amen.