by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

For centuries now the Church has acknowledged that St. Francis of Assisi is so much more than the model for a popular garden statue. In fact, he has been frequently described as “a second Christ” for his exemplary holiness. But like many a saint in the Church’s official calendar, he did not have the support of his family for his choice of lifestyle. His own father disowned Francis in front of the whole town because he despised his son’s decision.

In this instance Francis mirrored the rejection that Our Lord Jesus experienced from his own kinsmen as described in our Gospel episode from St. Mark today. Any of us who have felt a similar reaction to our lifestyle choices from our families can take comfort from Our Savior. So sad was he that He had to acknowledge that “No prophet has honor in his native place.”

In a sense, this incident has echoes in the hostility a young man might experience in our selfish culture if he were to express a desire to become a priest. I know that sounds harsh, but it happens more than we know. The mother might argue: “No! Because I want grandchildren!” The father might say “No! I want you to work for my company!” From my limited perspective I believe such people will face a harsh judgment day with those attitudes

In another sense, I believe that this incident in Christ’s life offers solace to all of us who want to stay loyal to Christ and His Church in our present society. A study of Church history will provide plenty examples of what Christ foretold when He said:” In the world you will have affliction.” But then He added: “But take courage! I have overcome the world.” That’s where I place my hope, even though societal trends encourage the opposite. Just take the long and ongoing push in our country to legalize baby killing. Or to normalize unnatural concepts about marriage and gender.

We must concede that all of this is somehow part of God’s master plan. His mysterious ways were manifest in the crucifixion of His Son for sure. But so was His glorious resurrection on the Third Day. So, we trust God in good times and in bad.

When Jesus announced the Eucharist, a very tough concept for a simple man like St. Peter. When Our Lord asked him “Are you too going to walk away, as did many early disciples, the humble St. Peter replied, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” So true! Still so!

Here are two homespun observations that make the point with a dash of sarcasm added: “If a person’s character is to be smeared, there’s nobody like a relative to do the job. Many people seem to think that distant relatives are the best kind to have.”

God love you and give you the peace of St. Francis.