Presented by Friar Richard-Jacob Forcier, OFM Conv. ~ Province Secretary
Archbishop Curley High School Transitus Service (10/3/17)
My sister-in-law loves the minions from Despicable Me and it was with my family that I first watched the film. For those of you who follow the movie series it traces the life of Dru Gru and how he found love, adopted three little girls and thereby changed his wayward life of villainy, well … thievery, to one of domestic bliss. The Minions are dedicated in service to Dru, much like how Friar Matt has his Minions, I mean “assistants,” here at Curley. As the story line has dragged on in the most recent Despicable Me 3, we see how Dru Gru finds out that he has a somewhat polar opposite identical brother, Felonius Gru, who tries to talk him back into a life of crime. In any event the DM3 animated adventure revolves around the theme – “I have a brother!”
In celebrating St. Francis of Assisi tonight we meet a real brother to all, not a comic creation, but someone who realized, as he noted in his Testament “the Lord gave me some brothers,” that he knew his way of life – living a poor simple life following the footsteps of Jesus – had been blessed with brotherhood. God has continued to give Francis brothers throughout the centuries. This Transitus Service assists us in getting close to the Spirit that embodied this man and serves as a charism for the Franciscan way of life.
Francis was a very charismatic young man and had many friends. Even in his decisions to move away from the world of fabric selling as a merchant, what we would call retail, he asked his close friends about his decisions. In this early time in his life, he encountered Christ in the cross at the church of San Damiano. It was there that he heard the challenge, Francis, “go and rebuild my church for it has fallen into ruin.” Christ spoke to Francis as a friend who asks for help; I need you to help Me do this. Francis, by following the literal observance of rebuilding that particular church, further developed his relationship with Christ in his many moments of prayer and fasting.
When I come to Archbishop Curley High School I often admire the slogan – “Where brotherhood begins.” This saying captures the very spirit of Francis; being a brother or a sister to everyone and in all things. Our life is always relational – to our Most High and Glorious God, our parents, siblings, friends, and even to all of creation. This interwoven pattern begins but never ends. Just as Francis had this awesome challenge to responsibility when the Lord gave him brothers, our call is to look inward to see how we can be a brother a sister to all.
Of course, we live in a world that is also very aware of the environment – we recycle, we try to reduce our carbon footprint for our good Earth. Francis’ life beckons us – to love creation, but to love the Creator more. I think that is why Francis could embrace Sister Death singing – or having the Canticle of Creation sung to him. He had done what was his to do, and he challenged his followers to find out, to discern, where God is calling us to brotherhood today and every day.
Brotherhood to Francis was like a verb – to brother – indicating action and reaction to the world, people, everything around us. It requires an intense amount to love – for God has loved us much. Being a brother had no boundaries. At the time of his death he asked for his friend, the Lady Jacoba, to come to see him. The friars with Francis were hesitant that this woman would go into the cloister of the friars. Francis simply said – let brother Jacoba in for I need to see her. Francis was brother to all. With Francis there were no boundaries. At his tomb at the Sacred Convent in Assisi Francis four closest friars are buried near him, even dear Lady Jacoba is buried in the same crypt for she is buried across the chapel from him.
We come together tonight to realize that Francis is our brother. As we mark his passing, we can realize that here in this place, where brother hood begins, it is up to each of us to make this relational call to honor one another, to honor creation, and to honor and praise our God, Who has given us so much. We must look at ourselves and not say like Dru Gru, “I have a brother,” but it is better to say, “I am a brother.” This involves more responsibility – more accountability. How can I best be a brother to my friends and family around me right here and now?
In his Testament, Francis also says that he has done what was his to do and that we might be shown what is ours. Ours is still the call to be a brother to all and to honor one another well.