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St Francis among the tulips

I was in Christchurch recently leading a retreat and stayed at our community in Addington.

This garden of tulips featuring a statue of St Francis is particularly beautiful on the back lawn. We celebrated the feast of St Francis during the week on October 4th which also marked the end of the 'Season of Creation'.

The life and ministry of St Francis and his namesake Pope Francis continue to bear fruit which calls us to a simpler lifestyle possessing grateful hearts for all the blessings we have received and enjoy. All things are connected and we are interdependent on one another. The land, oceans, plants and animals. We have a responsibility to care for our common home.

When we “seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33), maintaining a right relationship with God, humanity and nature, then justice and peace can flow like a never-failing stream of pure water, nourishing humanity and all creatures. (Pope Francis' message, Season of Creation, 2023).

This Sunday's Gospel from Matthew 21:33-43 is the parable about the landlord who planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants. The tenants abused his trust and refused to handover their produce when the time came. They went as far as killing the landlord's son in order to take over his inheritance. Of course we see the connection here with the death of Jesus. And we are reminded that Jesus , the stone rejected by the builders, becomes the corner stone.

There is greed, power, self importance and self-centreness on the part of the tenants who will justify anything to get what they want. The fruit they produce is fear and destruction. Bad fruit.

The parable ends with the statement, 'I tell, you then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Good fruit. Down the ages people have been gifted with that grace. St Francis is a shining example of that continuing to speak to this age and our ecological crisis. Pope Francis too in his statements on care of our common home and care of the most vulnerable.

Pope Francis at this time is gathered in Rome with clergy and lay people for the Synod. At the opening Mass he charged the participants to look with a "welcoming gaze towards the weakest, the suffering and discarded." He also noted that St Francis "did not criticize or lash out at anyone," but instead "took up only the weapons of the Gospel: humility and unity, prayer and charity." He encourages us to do the same. These are the means by which we produce good fruit

and with open arms handover without reserve.

You may like to listen to 'Words of love' again, my song inspired by 'Laudato si' and the words of St Francis himself, 'Make me a channel of your peace.'

Blessings on your week

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