27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
BREATH OF LIFE
By Lucinda M. Vardey
It is fortuitous that the readings this Sunday very much mirror what we know of the patron of ecology and animals, St. Francis of Assisi (whose feast it also is today). As a young man Francis transformed his life from riches and fame to poverty and simplicity. With his first followers, he took up residence in a donkey shelter which, reflecting similarities to Adam’s first home, Francis called “a jumping off point to Paradise.”
Communicating with animals and birds, working in fields, restoring ruined churches and serving local peasants and lepers, Francis’ prayer embraced the natural beauty of God’s creation with a renewed sense of unity. As Esther exclaimed in our entrance antiphon, “You are the Lord of all.”
The first to call the Earth “mother” Francis’ poetic Canticle is like a litany to the life-giving balance between the masculine and feminine elements and energies in the natural world. “Praise be to you O Lord for Brother Sun,” he wrote, and for “Sister Moon and the stars.” His partnership with St. Clare was imbued with the common commitment of offering all to Jesus in love and to follow the path of the gospel without detour. St. Clare’s light and gentle grace perfectly complemented and comforted the radical life Francis had assumed.
Mark’s gospel summarizes the symmetry with the beginning of creation: of a man and woman finding each other, leaving their childhood homes and joining together as one in heart. St. Francis and St. Clares’ union gave birth to the still flourishing Franciscan family, which continues their legacy of being innocent and trusting children in Jesus’ arms.
Genesis 2.7ab, 15, 18-24