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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Stigmata of St Francis

"Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way." 1Cor 12:31

More has been written about love than almost any other subject and still its description remains elusive. The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu once say, "those who say don't know, and those who know don't say," and though he was writing about beauty, or the attempt to describe the beautiful, it could just as easily apply to love. Describing authentic love can trivialize it, even demean it. Being loved unconditionally, especially by God, is one of the foundation stones of our faith. Because we believe that God loves us unconditionally, we are free to live without constraint or fear. Living in God is not something we earn, but a gift we accept with gratitude and delight.

St Paul reminds us to strive for the great spiritual gifts: to desire peace of mind and spirit, to want an open and still heart, and to reach for humility and wisdom. At the same time, the Apostle to the Gentiles reminds us that the gift which surpasses all the others is love, and cannot be merited, only celebrated.

When St Francis of Assisi prayed for the gift of the Stigmata, he knew it would involve pain, but desired to imitate Christ perfectly. If Chris's love for us meant that he would have to suffer for the sake of doing God's work, Francis wanted the same privilege. If Jesus was willing to hang upon a cross, Francis wanted the same grace. For Francis, the gift of the Stigmata, though painful, was another way to express his gratitude for the love God had bestowed on him so lavishly.

Today, ask for the gift of loving others for the sake of the Gospel.

What gift do you desire from God to live the Gospel more fully?


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