By Sister Marcella Nachreiner
The Franciscan meaning of ‘work ‘service’ does not reflect today’s widely shared economic or political assumptions about ‘job and ‘money.’
In the early days of the order, Francis of Assisi and his brothers lived in the Portiuncula. They often visited nearby villages, proclaiming a message of penance and conversion. Francis always brought his broom along in case he needed to clean a church. After he preached to the people, he would speak privately with the priests imploring them to keep the church clean for celebrating the Eucharist.
I love the part where Francis sets to work with his broom. We all love to do significant important work rather than tackling humble tasks. I know I do. I prefer to do my computer work rather than take my broom to an empty church or scrub a floor.
Francis’ example in this story shows his humility and love of the Eucharist and invites us to exemplify and achieve the same harmony in our own lives. Our contributions to the world are how we work and serve, how we speak and act, how we touch others and how we live.
Many of the world’s wisest people have not been leaders with followers or people of fame and power. Much of the world’s profound healing and service has happened because people not known for extraordinary abilities or miraculous deeds reached out to others and took the risks necessary to stand with those in need. Often great compassion, understanding and peace radiated from the simplest of people through their being as they lived examples of faith, hope, love and truth.
The core meaning of Franciscan ‘work’ ‘service’ develops in our awareness that they are not separate from prayer and study or rule and principles but from their interwoven unity. We must place ourselves in God’s hands to put our hearts, minds and bodies to good use.
May the eloquence of the witness of life, rather than that of words, always be at the heart of our work as it was for our holy father, Francis.