Chapters forty-four through fifty of the Book of Sirach presents us with a series of eulogies in which the sacred writer praises the heroes of Israel; namely, the patriarchs, prophets and some of the kings. The passage that we read today comes from the introductory verses of those eulogies. The introduction focuses our attention on the families, the descendants, and the progeny that these men left behind. Once again we see and hear evidence of how these particular heroes are not memorialized for their individual achievements. Rather they are remembered as the men who sat at the head of the fabled households and families, reminding us once again that Israelites, like all Middle Easterners saw themselves as members of a group.
As we celebrate the Feast of All Saints of the Seraphic Order, we too remember the many men and women who walked in the footsteps of Jesus as they followed the Rules of Life composed by Francis and Clare of Assisi. Though the number of Franciscan canonized and beatified saints is legion, Sirach asks us to consider that their true legacy lies in their communion with us, men and women who still strive today to walk the same path that they trod. As I am sure you are aware, both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis have canonized and beatified hundreds of men and women. As I perused the list of these new saints, I could not fail to notice that many of them were Franciscans.
The Gospel today is the familiar story of the rich young man who wanted to follow Jesus but could not follow the directive given him to sell all his goods and give the proceeds to the poor. This episode appears in all three of the synoptic Gospels which gives us an idea of how important this concept is for the evangelists. The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience are the path we have chosen to walk, mindful of the fact that these counsels are all informed by the need to live as brothers and sisters in fraternal charity. The charism of the Franciscan Order is best understood by the commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved us.
Our Eucharist today is an opportunity for us to renew ourselves and remind ourselves of that initial fervor which motivated us to become members of the Franciscan Family.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator