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Meditation on St. Francis of Assisi

by Pope John XXIII

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    Document Information

  • Description:
    Blessed John XXIII provides a small meditation on St. Francis of Assisi and his love for "Lady Poverty." The Pope exhorts all of us to imitate this saint in detaching ourselves from the world.
  • Larger Work:
    Prayers and Devotions from Pope John XXIII
  • Pages: 223-224
  • Publisher & Date:
    Grosset & Dunlap, Inc., 1967

Francis was called "another Christ", in the sense that he showed in his life and conduct the very pith and kernel of Our Lord's teaching.

We all have to fight against the lusts of the flesh. Many people also desire material wealth and dream of money, but St. Francis teaches every one of us, whatever our social condition may be, to fight against "the lust of the eyes", which is full of deceit and vanity. The wealth of Christian life does not consist in money and all its cares and demands. To some extent it is necessary for our very existence, but we must not lose our hearts to it. In the presence of his father and of the Bishop, Francis gave up everything, even the clothes he was wearing -- such was his love for poverty.

When Providence has enabled a man to possess more than sufficient for his needs, he is inviting him to redistribute his wealth, to help the poor, and to contribute to the great works in aid of human brotherhood. This commandment is valid for all, and particularly for those who have dedicated their lives to God's service.

Therefore, whoever has more abundant wealth must give more generously, giving also for those who are unable to do so. The precept applies not only to two brothers, two families or two towns, but to the whole world. Sometimes a rich man may feel powerful, and boast of his resources, and shut his eyes and ears to the poverty of others who are condemned to live in want -- whereas true brotherly feeling would see to it that the poor had at least what he needed to live. If we wish to find a little spiritual joy on this earth we must follow after St. Francis, who imitated the example of Christ, who even worked miracles in order to feed the hungry.

Original quote translated from Discorsi, Messaggi, Colloqui del Santo Padre Giovanni XXIII, della Poliglotta Vaticana, Vol III: 1960-1961, p. 538.

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