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Sunday, December 10, 2006

A voice in the wilderness

Today our parish priest, Fr. John, talked about speaking the truth, as the prophets Baruch and St. John the Baptist did. Rather than the cynics and doom-sayers, prophecy and speaking the truth is not about condemning -- at least, not exclusively. For example, the crucial other half, after condemning wrongdoing, is to proclaim the salvation that is accessible after repentance. He also talked about the wonderful lesson of of St. Francis of Assisi to Brother Juniper, who so wanted to gain the same eloquence that St. Francis had in preaching. But to his surprise, the blessed saint's lessons were not given in Church, or in a library or classroom, but in the streets of the towns where St. Francis went about greeting people, helping them in their physical labors. I didn't hear Fr. John make the connection, as my attention was on my son from time to time, but I can certainly see a connection. When St. Francis preaches in his fashion, he is not there telling people that they are condemned, or that they are accursed for their sins. He is there telling them that God loves them, that he loved them, that help was at hand. In other words, he does not state the obvious -- that we can all use some help or kind words -- but goes on to the stunning conclusion: that the help and loving kindness of God was right there.

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