The Unexpected Sweetness of Lent
As Franciscans, we know the story of St. Francis and the Leper. Francis was also in his conversion process – he was already seeking God’s will, but also struggling to see God in the most marginalized: the people afflicted with leprosy. Let’s reflect on that for a moment…
Afterwards, as he remounted his horse and turned back to say farewell to the man, the leper had vanished. That leper was Jesus Christ – who received a kiss from Francis.
Francis’s tells us about this story in his own words: "The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body. And afterwards I delayed a little and left the world".[i]
In this encounter, Francis opened his heart to the transformative power of God. Of such complete conversion that it was completely life changing. As we approach Lent 2022 let us open our hearts be opened to the unexpected sweetness waiting for us in our encounters with the marginalized. Perhaps encounters with those suffering with poverty, disease. Or even those we consider to be on ‘our’ margins – those who may hold different political views. Let us, like Francis, be open to the encounter, and in so doing, open to touching the face of God.
Lenten Blessings -
Laura Chun, OFS
Minister, San Luis Rey Fraternity
[i] The Testament, Francis, et al. Francis of Assisi. Early Documents. New City Press, 1999.
Secular Franciscan Order
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