When I first heard the new Pope had chosen the name Francis and that it was indeed chosen in the name of St. Francis of Assisi, I thought immediately of my dear friend Jamie Arpin Ricci’s book “The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom.” A very good book that I would certainly recommend to those interested in understanding what it looks like to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis in our particular time and place.
For all his idiosyncrasies and extremes, St. Francis of Assisi faithfully lived the words of Jesus. His commitment to God over Mammon meant that he refused to even touch money, forbidding his fellow friars from also doing so (Matthew 6:24). When he heard that God clothed the flowers with loving elegance and cared for the birds, he declared himself to treating creation with the love and respect of a brother (Matthew 6:26-29). And convinced that god would provide for all who asked, he and his brothers chose the life of mendicants, going door to door begging for the basic food and shelter they need to live. Again and again the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount inspired an unlikely and uncommon obedience in Francis, an obedience that defied logic and expectation when it went on to spark an ongoing reformation in the church even to this day.
Jamie Arpin Ricci, “The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom.” Page 14.
It is an intriguing time. As Jamie mentions in his post on his blog, I too am cautiously optimistic about what this means in the big picture. Yet, I am encouraged that this is the first Jesuit Pope, and the first Pope from the America’s.
A video that was helpful for me as I explored the implications of this particular selection is this one by Stanley Hauerwas from Duke University. (Hat Tip to David Fitch for posting this on his facebook timeline yesterday). I offer it here because it is helpful and Hauerwas is awesome!
What are your hopes with this new Pope who has taken on the name Francis? In your view, is the Pope still meaningful today? Why?