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The essay is basically about St. Francis of Assisi and how his life and doings influenced the author of the essay, Jim Wallis.
The essay is about a story of humility amidst poverty.
It was through a movie that Jim Wallis, “officially met” St. Francis. It was through a movie, entitled Brother Sun, Sister Moon that he and St. Francis started to have a connection.
St. Francis, according to the author, has become the subject of his readings and the inspiration for his reflection, prayer, and self-examination.
Contrary to the common notion of the Christians that the church is the yardstick of one’s spirituality or the standard of measuring one’s self, for St. Francis, it was God who could only be the standard for his being.
St. Francis embraced poverty with all his heart. He believed that poverty is the best way to be close to Jesus. And that Jesus loved the poor. He was more than willing to bask in poverty and to devote his life into it.
As G.K. Chesterton described him: “So soon as he certainly has followers, he does not compare himself with his followers, towards whom he might appear as a master; he compares himself more and more with his Master, towards whom he appears only a servant.”
When St. Francis has vacation in a deserted church at San Damiano: “Francis, go repair my house, which is falling into ruins.” For him, to restore the church is his true calling, for it for Christ.
St. Francis was then asked to write a rule for his own order, but he refused to reasoning that the Gospel was more than enough. St. Francis lived his life centered to poverty. He did not ask for any comfort, but enjoyed being poor instead.
According to Jim Wallace, St. Francis is the greatest teacher. He did not merely preach on what a person should do, but did what he think is right for the humanity. He furthered that St. Francis would definitely turn one’s life to change drastically.
St. Francis’s story is very much related in our situation today in the society. So many pressing social issue and problems are needed to be resolved imperatively. Our problems range from economic to political.
It is commendable that St. Francis had embraced poverty without any remorse, without reluctance. For one, poverty has been the world’s greatest problem. After poverty, come famine, unhealthy bodies and minds. As for today, people do their best in order to veer away from poverty. In today’s context, poverty is a problem that should be eradicated. Poverty, in these modern times, tackles unfavorable economic condition; crime; lack of education; absence of food security; unemployment; among others.
I can say that St. Francis’s nobility can still be relevant today as he learned the value of humility. Humility and poverty combined can truly bring us to places. And selfishness will bring us nowhere. Aside from loving ourselves, we have to love others, to have a more meaningful life.
In today’s era, when there is indeed a misallocation of resources living the gap between the rich and the poor even bigger, we have our own choice.
Millions of people are getting hungry around the world. Most of the children do not have proper education. In some parts of the world, to have a decent life remains an illusion.
To dwell in our problems without the motivation to move on; and to accept what we have while persevering on what we achieve while doing humanitarian acts.
Poverty can teach us certain virtues. Poverty teaches us to remain humble, to share with other people the how great or little our blessings we have.
We have to maintain gratified in whatever problem may come our way. For in every problem, there is a solution. In every good deed, there is a corresponding reward. More than the material things, it is better to have self-fulfillment in bringing changes to other people’s lives. Each of us can make a difference only if we choose to.
As for the issue of death penalty, I think St. Francis would oppose it—in the most superlative contentions. As a saint, Francis loved the life of the people, no matter how good or bad you are. In the first place, punishing a criminal through death penalty would never be an assurance that crimes will be eradicated or at least lessened. And the crime that had been committed will not change. It was already committed, anyway.
Criminals are also sons or daughters of God. And St. Francis loved everyone; he loved the love of God. St. Francis would afford to steal life. We cannot correct a sin by committing another sin. What we need is the courage to move on, to live in decency, to respect the lives of the people around us. It is not impossible to live in harmony.
I am sure that St. Francis would encourage us to live in peace. And without our selfish interests and self-centered motives, we make that possible.
In most places of the world, death penalty, also called as “capital punishment” is a punishment for treason, murder, rape, among others. While in some conservative countries, drug trafficking would also mean death penalty, if convicted. I think St. Francis would just encourage us to help other people.
Criminals, I know, have committed sins. But they need our help for them to see their worth without committing any kind of crime. We can help them correct the mistakes that they had committed by giving them another chance. There is nothing wrong in forgiving. They just have to redeem themselves. And through our help they can do that.
In the first place, those who are wrongfully convicted prisoners. We are not even sure if the convicted ones did really commit the crimes.
Instead of punishing them through death penalty, giving them a lifetime imprisonment could be better, if they really did the crime. We have to see the value of human life, just like St. Francis did.
St. Francis can be a very good inspiration and motivation for us to go on in our lives. Most of us would end up complaining when a lot of problems come our way.
We cringe if we only have little food in our table. We cringe of we did get to buy the latest clothes, the sumptuous food, the latest technological craze.
But the greatest problem is we do not seek for solutions. We do not see the more important things. We were never content of what we have. We are too selfish to see the blessings that each of us has.
St. Francis has influenced and changed lives. Just like what he did to Jim Wallis, the author of the essay, I can say that he also changed mine. He gave me an inspiration and motivation despite the world’s cruelty.
Before, I was too selfish to appreciate the people around me. I did not see their worth at first as I did not saw mine that time. I was too blinded by my ambition to get rich. By that time, I wanted to have everything I wanted. I hated to be poor. I hated to be inferior. I was too materialistic.
All I wanted was to eat expensive and delicious meals, to buy the latest trends in fashion, to buy the most high-tech gadgets, and to live the most comfortable life I could imagine. I aimed at earning millions of dollars and spend it by myself, without sharing a single cent to others. My mindset then was “what is mine should only me mine.” I was not open to the idea of sharing myself to others. I wanted to be filthy rich.
We are aware that poverty is a grave societal problem; we do our share to help those who are needier than us. Instead of complaining about the material things we cannot have, why not appreciate the great blessings that God has endowed unto us.
Why not reflect on how lucky are you to experience life that not all are given the chance? Why not inspire other people just like what St Francis did? Why not live contentedly amidst the world’s great problems. Why not serve poverty as your own motivation to help other people?
I would like to reiterate that we can make a difference only if we chose to—and let’s make that a collective effort, for the changes to be collective too.
I know it would never be an easy task. It is definitely a piece of cake. It is indeed a Herculean task that we have to do. But there will always ways to take effect the things we want.
In our own little ways, we can touch lives—even if not as great as St. Francis did.
Wallis, James. (1982, July) A Holy Jealosy. Theology Today, Vol.32 No.9. Retrived: April 2, 2007. <http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jul1982/v39-2-article6.htm>
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