Repair my house!
It was when Francis was praying earnestly for guidance from God in the early days of his conversion that he heard these words. They seemed to come directly from the Crucifix – but the Crucifix was no longer just a painted image, Francis found himself face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Cel 10)
The encounter lasted only an instant, but that was enough to fire Francis with enthusiasm. “Repair my house!” Why not start right here and now! San Damiano church certainly needed repairing, with its crumbling mortar and collapsing walls, its interior exposed to wind and weather. Francis joyfully set to work.
The Next Step
One day, after Francis had repaired several little churches, he was attending Mass in the Portiuncula. Now he received a new revelation – not changing the earlier message, but showing him its deeper spiritual meaning.
“When on a certain day the Gospel was read in that Church … the holy Francis, hearing that the disciples of Christ should not possess gold or silver or money; nor carry along the way scrip, or wallet, or bread, or a staff… but that they should preach the kingdom of God and penance, immediately cried out exultingly: ‘This is what I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with all my heart.’ “ (1 Cel 22)
Now Francis knew he was to repair the house of God not in a material sense, but by living and preaching the Gospel. At this new stage of Francis’ vocation, we see again his enthusiasm and his desire to start “right here and now”. People flocked to hear the simple little man whose words touched their lives and made the Gospel real to them. He called them to conversion, but did not attack and destroy. Francis was “repairing” the house of God with gentleness and love.
His Rule for the Brothers
Francis added to his Rule a chapter on missionary activity and we see in it these same qualities. Starting “right here and now” for the apostle means starting with one’s own life. Francis pointed out that the first task of apostles is to allow their own lives to be transformed by the Gospel so that they can give a truly Christian witness, a witness of peace and love. Then they can proclaim the word of God. (Rule of 1221, ch 16)
The Third Order Regular Rule
Faithful to the inspiration of Francis, Art. 30 of our Rule reads:
“As they announce peace with their lips, let them be careful to have it even more within their own hearts ….”
Our “building” and “repairing” of the reign of God begins in our own hearts. We listen again to the message Francis heard from the crucifix: “Repair my house!”
Can we hear also an echo of Francis’ response?
“Let’s start right here and now!”
- What aspects of our life and ministries enable us to be peace-makers, healers, repairers?
- How can we set out to do these things, (i.e, be peace-makers, healers, repairers)
- in our own lives?
- in our communities?
- in our ministries?