That’s how we know him. His monks knew him differently, they witnessed a man who heard God’s call and he followed that call, in what he said and did. He would tell his monks:
"The deeds you do today may be the only sermon some people will hear today."Francis was born into a wealthy family – he lived a life of luxury and frivolity. As many young men did, he went off to find glory in war but came back disillusioned. After a time of sickness, he began wondering about the purpose of his life. One day, in the dilapidated church of San Damiano, he heard Christ saying to him, "Francis, fix my Church."
And he did just that. He gave up everything he had, to live a life of poverty. His father who expected Francis to take over his business was incensed and disowned him, Francis in turn gave up his fancy clothes and walked away free, to follow where he God’s voice
Francis fixed up the Church of San Damian and began his life of taking care of the poor, preaching the Gospel in word and deed, wherever he walked.
St. Francis said, “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.”Today, we remember St. Francis and how by his deeds he preached sermons that even animals would listen too…
There is a story told, that once when he was staying in the town of Greccio, a hare was caught in a trap and brought live to Francis by a brother. Seeing the hare, Francis was moved to pity and said, "Brother hare, come here. Why did you let yourself be fooled in this way?" As soon as the hare was released by the brother, he dashed over to Francis and, without being forced to do so, jumped into his lap as the safest place available. When he had rested there a while, Francis, stroking him with affection, let him go so that he could return to the wild. Each time he was placed on the ground, the hare ran back to Francis' lap. Finally Francis asked that the brothers carry him to a nearby forest. That worked. This type of thing happened repeatedly to Francis—which he saw as an opportunity to praise the glory of God.
On this day, when we remember this great saint of the Church and his words and works, it behooves us to remember the creatures we care for, our pets, and all living creatures.
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."It is St. Francis that reminds us that everything is connected. How we treat animals is the way we also deal with each other. I admit I’m a fan of Cesar Milan from TV, his show the Dog Whisperer.
But his show and his ministry go beyond dog training. I think he has real understanding of the dogs and a real love form them, even pit bulls who he thinks are much maligned. His understanding is that animals are not trash that we have to come to a better solution than euthanizing all those unwanted pets and feral animals, He works to” achieve the right balance between people and their dogs.”
When he heard about someone who had watched his show and how he was being bullied, Cesar told his own story of being bullied and helped reach out to that young man. Whether it’s the throwaway dogs in Puerto Rico, the Satos (I have a rescue!) or a young man in America, Cesar Milan personifies what St. Francis was talking about:
"The deeds you do today may be the only sermon some people will hear today."And
“If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men.”We are not called to be St. Francis or a garden statue but we can sure learn from his witness and have the same care for animals as St. Francis did in his time. May we fight against animal cruelty and reach out our hand to all creatures in need. Let us through our deeds today proclaim compassion for each other and our animals. And just as St. Francis did as was his to do; may Christ teach all of us what we are to do today. Amen.