Some of the favorite stories about Francis of Assisi involve animals. There is the story told of a wolf that had been terrorizing a village, and of Francis making peace between them. He brought the wolf into the town, explained to the townspeople that the wolf was just hungry, and made a pact between them—that the people would care for the wolf, feeding it when it was hungry, and it in return would stop eating *them*. Many paintings of St. Francis include a wolf, because of this anecdote. Another time, he was walking with some of his followers and noticed some birds that had flocked to the trees nearby. He asked them to pause while he went to preach to his “sister birds” for a while. The accounts of the event say that the birds stayed where they were and seemed to listen intently as Francis spoke. He is quoted by Bonaventure as saying, “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men”; and he has become known for this compassion he shows to both men and all else in creation. How would you describe your relationship with the creatures of this world (both human, and not)? Do you, with Francis, have a sense of their sacredness and belovedness to God? As you notice the creatures in your world today (whether they are all human, or there are some birds, bugs, and squirrels thrown in), notice your inner response to them. Is there wonder? Compassion? Annoyance? What is your sense of how God feels toward each of these particular ones? What might it look like to join God and St. Francis in caring for the sparrows? For your fellow humans?

Posted by Jamie Bonilla at 2022-07-14 13:30:29 UTC