Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Saint Francis and the Divinity of Christ
While visiting Assisi recently, Pope Benedict XVI warned against viewing Saints of the Church, and even Christ, as "good people" alone. Saint Francis was not a mere environmentalist. Many people today, he said, "accept a diminished Christ, admired in His extraordinary humanity but rejected in the profound mystery of His divinity." To do this, misses the point of the heroic lives the saints led, and of the very sacrifice of Christ.
Saint Francis, and his female counterpart, Saint Claire, were deeply rooted in the divinity of Christ and His Passion, and did not see Christ as a "good person" alone. Francis was the first recorded saint to have recieved the stigmata--the 5 wounds of Christ--in his own body.
Francis of Assisi was, indeed, a radical--a revolutionary. When his father took him before the bishop for giving away the father's money and goods to the poor, Francis gave his father the very clothes on his back, and went away naked. Francis was a radical reformer--not outside the Church, but within it. Someone once asked him about the validity of a Mass said by a priest who was living with a woman. Francis went to that priest and kissed his hands, because they held Christ. It is that kind of radical reverence for the Real Presence that is the heart of the Church.
Viewing Christ in His Divinity demands that we follow His teachings. Seeing Christ as only an "enlightened person" demands nothing of us but admiration.