Most people do not realize that in the Dominican calendar of saints, today is a big deal. It is the day we commemorate Saint Francis. So high do we hold the example and life of Saint Francis, that we call him, as we do Saint Dominic, our Holy Father.
The reason is quite clear, and today’s gospel tells it well. Both Saint Francis and Saint Dominic understood in their day the importance of a very profound witness to a new way of life, a witness that would be compelling to people because of the choice to live their poverty. For Francis, this was done to avoid the trap of riches. For Dominic, this was done to make the preaching central.
For both of them, it was a call to be sent. This powerful example is present to us in this day by Pope Francis, who chose the name of Francis. His choice of this name did not surprise me as much as the awareness that no one else had chosen this name before him. The example of Saint Francis was so clear that his canonization was by acclamation shortly after his death, so profound was life of holiness.
Just as the disciples in today’s gospel, just as Saint Francis, we too, by virtue of our own baptism, are sent. And just as Francis needed to discern the way in which God was calling him to witness, so too do we. We need to ask what is the best way to witness to the power of Jesus? What type of example will speak to this age, in the words of the bible, a “word that will rouse them”?
What actions, what choices do we need to make in order to be effective in our witness, as were the 72 in today’s gospel? For there are so many temptations and visions in our society today. It is easy to get distracted from the gospel vision, from the need to constantly be discerning spirits to know which are of God.
The things we see, the things we experience, when they are of God, are more marvelous than we could have ever imagined when we first accepted the call of God. Most importantly, we should be filled with joy because God has inscribed our names in heaven.