03/10/2023 SBU UNIVERSITY 

Let me begin my reflection this evening with a quote “Whenever Saints in their following of Christ, plumb the depths of human existence, there appears the perennial truth of the gospel. They break the boundaries of their times and become contemporaries of every time and every person in search of their star. And because of this, they are neither ancient nor modern, they are simply true, always true carriers of that truth that captures the crucial questions of existence in every age.”  (L. Boff). 

This quote finds its fundamental meaning in the life of St. Francis whose death, over 800 years ago we are commemorating with freshness as if it happened another day. What’s so captivating about this man which makes his death so fittingly deserve such an honor even after many centuries? What legacy did he leave behind that prompted the Church and the Franciscan family to set aside a special moment to participate in the Transitus of St. Francis? 

Francis left nothing of a tangible legacy but rather an ideal for all Christians who want to take following of Christ as their special enterprise or vocation in life. After having been converted and experienced several Christophanies, he profoundly engaged in the literal following of the gospel since he realized that interpreting the gospel was nothing but a castration of the strength of the gospel. The Gospel guided him not only into the knowledge of Christ but also, they revealed to Him the best way of following Christ. By choosing the Gospel way of life, Francis opened a perennial chapter which is widely read by anyone who is searching for eternal salvation. 

As we reflect on his passing on, the Crossover we are also induced to think about our own crossover when that time comes for us to part ways with these mortal bodies. What is it going to be like? History testifies that human end through death is a reality that is characterized by fear and it is a point that most people would not want to encounter. Many incidences narrate how death has been feared and how people have tried to escape death but all in vain.  At the backdrop of such a reality lies Francis, who in his agony from his chronic illness, upon learning that death was immanent, he joyfully, welcomed death as his sister. A sister who has to escort him to the heights where he meets his Creator. The understanding of death as a positive reality that all of us would need to wait and embrace is unique to Francis. He introduced a dimension of life that not many even mystics ventured into. 

The Last Supper and The Last Words. 

As an avid meticulous follower of Christ, Francis marked his end by mirroring the passion of Christ according to the Gospel of John. He expressed his alter Christus desire by relieving the last supper and the sharing of the parting meal. He surrendered the brotherhood into the hands of his followers whom he blessed and commissioned. That special enactment of the passion of Christ gave Francis the aptitude to demonstrate the depth of his love for Christ. He embraced Christ who, in the last two years of his life had imprinted his wounds on the Saint’s body. Such a profound gesture exhibited the wonderful exchange between Jesus and the passionate follower of St. Francis. 

The most remembered last words pronounced by the Saint before the last sigh are key to this commemoration. I have done my part and may Christ teach you yours! I find these words to be the heirloom treasure that Francis left to the Order and to the Church. This is a liberal statement that grants every one of us at any time and age to embark on following Christ according to the dictates of that particular epoch. Following Christ is always guided by time and space, therefore, it has to be dynamic and relevant to each period of time. One of the burdens experienced by several religious groups is that of having a conservative way of life and immutable rules. Rules and ways that cannot be altered thereby letting these groups living in the shadow of their ancient founders even in situations where their charism is no longer relevant. In short leaving a museum Spirituality. 

With gratitude, we thank our seraphic father Francis who redeemed us from the bondage of anachronism and ushered us into a dynamic form of following. In every age and time, St Francis’ words are ever renewed, His charism is an all-seasoned Charism because of its liberal nature. Every age finds newness in the words of Francis. The freedom to allow the master to teach you and me our ways to follow him is a perennial invitation. 

My brothers and Sisters, 800 years down through the ages, the voice of Francis is still as clear as it was those years ago in Assisi. We do not get tired of setting aside time to come and celebrate the Transitus because it invigorates us, we feel replenished and we are given hope to forge ahead and to also prepare our own transitus in a very positive way. 

Remember “Sometimes you will never know the Value of a moment until it becomes a Memory.” 

May this enactment and commemoration, induce in us the desire to follow Christ closely in life and in death. MAY THE BLESSING OF OUR SERAPHIC FATHER BE UPON YOU ALL! 

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