Everyone appreciates a word of praise, an encouraging word, and a word of acknowledgement in the midst of a crowd and the tempest of life. Perhaps Christmas is so special because we seek to share, and tend to receive, more of others hearts than at any other time of year. It does not come, however, without intentionality and effort.
Francis of Assisi was a monk who lived nearly 800 years ago. The following part of his life, retold by Carlo Carretto, are instructive to us now.
When I, Francis, heard the call of the Gospel, I did not set about organizing a political pressure-group in
Assisi. What I did, I remember very well, I did for love, without expecting anything in return; I did it for the Gospel, without placing myself at odds with the rich, without squabbling with those who preferred to remain rich. And I certainly did it without any class hatred.
I did not challenge the poor people who came with me to fight for their rights, or win salary increases. I only told them that we would be blessed—if also battered, persecuted, or killed. The Gospel taught me to place the emphasis on the mystery of the human being more than on the duty of the human being.
I did not understand duty very well. But how well I understood—precisely because I had come from a life of pleasure—that when a poor person, a suffering person, a sick person, could smile, that was the perfect sign that God existed, and that he was helping the poor person in his or her difficulties.
The social struggle in my day was very lively and intense, almost, I should say, as much so as in your own
times. Everywhere there arose groups of men and women professing poverty and preaching poverty in the Church and the renewal of society. But nothing changed, because these people did not change hearts——–
No, brothers and sisters, it is not enough to change laws. You have to change hearts. Otherwise, when you have completed the journey of your social labors you shall find yourselves right back at the beginning—only this time it is you who will be the arrogant, the rich, and the exploiters of the poor. —From 7, Francis by Carlo Carretto
Laura and I cannot fully express how loved we feel and how much we appreciate all the gifts, kinds words, invitations to activities and family celebrations we were invited to in our first months with you. It makes me VERY excited to see what God has in store for and through the people called Methodist in Carlisle. TOGETHER we shall see!