So this morning as I celebrated the Feast of St. Francis, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to have young Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in my youth group, knowing what little I know of his teen years. I think he would have been a mixed bag. No, let’s be honest. I wouldn’t have ever guessed what he would become.
I suspect I would have liked him for his charming ways, but wondered if his rich upbringing would blind him to the need around him.
I would have wondered about his love for troubadours and asked him to listen to the lyrics carefully for their potential misogyny or casualness about the body. I would have quietly judged his vanity and his love of nice clothing.
I would have worried about his disdain for learning, and encouraged him not to drop out of school. I would have been concerned about his lack of ambition. I would have understood he didn’t want to be a merchant like his father, but thought he didn’t actually have an idea of what the adult world entailed.
I would have worried about his glamorizing of war and violence, his hero worship of knights. And I would have been concerned when he joined the cavalry at 20 and guessed that would be the last I would see of him.
So who is this guy who comes back from war, kissing lepers, leaving his family behind, preaching God’s love to people and animals, rejoicing in all of God’s creation? Where did he come from? Because I never would have seen that coming.
A couple of things I take from this:
2) You don’t need a youth group to become a saint.
4) Boy howdy do I never know how God is working in people’s lives. It would be good if I could get over my sweet self.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.