Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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XIII SFO General Chapter

Homily of Fr Amanuel Mesgun Temelso, OFM CAP. Oct 27th, 2011

 

1st  Reading

 

In today’s reading St Paul encourages us to be holy, saying: “we have complete victory, in the strength of Him who loved us ... If God is for us, who can be against us?  Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies!”.  What else is holiness but union with God? And this union with God begins with faith, which is God’s gift, and ends in eternal life: a stable, irreversible union with God. This does not mean that holy living requires no struggle, because life will always have its share of “troubles, anxiety, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger or the sword”.  We must believe in the love of God, both in His love for us and in the love He puts into our hearts. Anything that goes against our holiness should be seen in a positive light, as an instrument that God uses to deepen the union and the love that should exist between us and Him. Christ used the cross, because only through death did Christ save us and reach the glory of the resurrection.

 

 

In the struggle to keep ourselves holy, if we compare what we have to do with God’s role in our sanctification, we only have a tiny part to play. We need only open ourselves to the sanctifying action of God: open ourselves to the love which is always stronger than anything that exists. It is stronger than “death and life, angels and principalities, present and future”.  “Neither powers, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing” can overcome the love that God has for us.  If it is true that: “It is God who justifies!”, then our only concern should be to do the Father’s will.

Gospel

In today’s Gospel we see that Herod’s opposition does not quench Jesus’ love for His mission. Elsewhere in the gospel we read that Herod wanted to meet Jesus because he wanted to see His miracles.  In today’s passage we see that “some Pharisees came up and said to Jesus “Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.”. Maybe it wasn’t Herod who wanted to kill Jesus, but those Pharisees who had many different reasons for not wanting Jesus in Jerusalem? Perhaps. One thing is certain: Jesus is afraid of no-one, not of Herod or of those who wanted Him out of Jerusalem.  Jesus declares the truth, about Herod and about Himself, when He says: “Go and tell that fox, ‘Look, I am casting out demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work. Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is impossible that a prophet should be killed outside Jerusalem”. We too need courage in the face of troubles and problems, whether they are natural or caused by other people. We need the courage of Jesus, to be able to say “today, tomorrow and the next day” I will do my duty. I will give witness to Christ even if it means martyrdom.

The Spirit of Assisi

Today, the entire Catholic Church, and we Franscans especially, celebrate the “ Spirit of Assisi”.  The Spirit of Assisi, begun by Blessed John Paul II, is 25 years old today. Today we celebrate that event because, as the Pope himself reminded us 25 years ago: “what was once the programme of Francis is also a programme for today... As it was in the time of Francis, the Gospel is God’s power for the salvation of all believers. How much does our world today need that same saving power”.

The spirit of Assisi is the Franciscan response to men and women today.

The spirit of Assisi:

1- Is an ecumenical attitude inviting “all peoples, nations, races and languages, all countries and persons all over the earth”, wherever they are in the world, to recognise that “every good thing belongs to the Lord God, most High and Supreme”. It is an impassioned search for peace, first of all among the religions of the world.

2- It is the practice of constant prayer to obtain the gift of peace from God, and of contemplation, in order to discern the presence and action of the creative Word of God and of His Spirit in every initiative - no matter who promotes it - for peace, reconciliation and fraternity.

3- It gathers together all religions, and presents the Catholic Church as the servant of the dialogue, highlighting the fact that religions are powerful in their weakness: their power comes not from brute force, or from economic or political power, but from prayer and spiritual persuasion.

4- It is opposed to violence, to the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence. It shows that fidelity to one’s own religious convictions, fidelity above all to the crucified and risen Christ, is not expressed in violence and intolerance, but in sincere respect for the other, in dialogue, in a proclamation that appeals to freedom, reason and commitment to peace and reconciliation.

5- The spirit of Assisi is celebrated by four experiences that all religions have in common:

Prayer = All people are invited to do something for the cause of peace. The specific contribution of Christians and believers is prayer.

Silence = silence is the listening between us and God, it is the dialogue among ourselves.

Fasting = A fast to ensure that the surplus of the rich countries may fill the scarcity of the poor countries.

Pilgrimage = A going forward in dialogue, because man is a pilgrim in this created world, praising his creator.

The four symbols of these days of prayer for peace are:

The rainbow = a call to brotherhood

The wind = the Spirit who speaks to all.

Light = the light given to young people, which they will carry throughout the world

The olive tree = the symbol of peace