04Oct 4th October. Saturday of Week 26

Saint Francis of Assisi.

Francesco d’Assisi (1181-1226), was baptised Giovanni but nicknamed Francesco (“the Frenchman”) by his father, Pietro di Bernardone, as his mother, Pica de Bourlemont, was French. As a young man Francesco lived the life of a troubador and planned to fight as a soldier for Assisi. But in 1204 he had a vision that redirected his life; on a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor in begging at Saint Peter’s Basilica and resolved to live in poverty and simplicity in the service of Christ and the Church. He began preaching in the streets, and soon gathered an Order, later called Franciscans, that followed this evangelical lifestyle. With Saint Clare of Assisi he also founded the Poor Clares, an enclosed religious order for women, as well as a confraternity, the Third Order, for laypeople. In 1219, he attempted to convert the Sultan to put an end to the Crusades. Once his Order was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew from external affairs to a life of austerity and prayer. In 1224, he received the stigmata, and bore in his body the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He is the patron saint of animals, of peace and of the environment, and is one of the two patron saints of Italy.

First Reading: Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17

(After Job repents of his complaining, he is blessed more than ever before.)

Then Job answered the Lord:”;I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.

Gospel: Luke 10:17-24

(Jesus rejoices in the graces reserved for the humble of heart.)

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”; He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

What’s to be glad about?

It baffles us when a person as good as Job must “repent in dust and ashes”. But he was humbled by the mystery of God’s overpowering presence. He had presumed to question God, as though he, Job, were a divine colleague, but now he disowns his words and repents in dust and ashes. The conclusion to the Book of Job is a strong call to just this kind of humility before God. If we follow Job’s example, we will be blessed like him.

Our gospel allows us a rare glimpse into the deepest of all mysteries, the prayer of Jesus himself. The Evangelists, especially Luke, frequently enough speak of Jesus at prayer, but seldom offer more than a reverent silence around such moments. Here he speaks his prayer aloud, overcome by a hidden power. Rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, he thanks the Father that “what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to merest children.” We can only hope to remain so grateful in the midst of any success we may achieve, even in our teaching of religion.