Franciscan Guidance in the Midst of Pandemic
Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor disturbance.
Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice.
Where there is rest and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor restlessness.
Where there is fear of the Lord to guard an entrance, there the enemy cannot have a place to enter.
Where there is a heart full of mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardiness of heart.
(St. Francis of Assisi, Admonition 27)
This admonition was written by St. Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century to encourage his followers to live the Gospel in the midst of the troubling times they found themselves in: surrounded by leprosy and sickness, along with war and greed, - all the places to which we as human beings go when we are feeling threatened, insecure and fearful.
This is our story today in the 21st century as we journey with the spread of the Coronavirus all around the globe. Imagine what it would be like if we let go of fear and ignorance and looked toward one another with charity and wisdom. Rather than being angry or disturbed, perhaps we could practice patience and humility. When we greedily hold onto what we have or buy to excess, perhaps we could choose joy and poverty – receiving all as gift – and open our hands to share with our neighbors in the spirit of being sensitive to others’ needs. When we find ourselves anxious or restless, let us turn to rest and meditation. This is good advice for all of us no matter where we find ourselves as we stay in our own homes - “sheltering in place” as we are saying today.
Perhaps the choice is more deeply about living in abundance rather than scarcity. Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel: “I have come that you might have life, life in abundance.” (John 10:10) If we really take this scripture to heart then our hands are not tightly clenched holding onto what we have out of fear and anxiety. Rather we have our hands open with abundance guiding us to live charitably, patiently, generously.
When we awaken each day, let us ask our good God to grace us with meditating restfully, sharing openly, acting mercifully. This is our challenge and invitation. We can get through this, not alone but together!