Brothers as a gift, the experience of Francisco de Assis

For St. Francis, fraternity is not an abstract theory, but a concrete gift from God for each and everyone. Pobrezinho de Assis reminds us, even today, that we cannot be true brothers if we do not recognize ourselves as children of a

Brothers as a gift, the experience of Francisco de Assis

Francis of Assisi inspires the Pope again, the first in history to take his name. Five years ago, it was praise to God for Creation, the Song of Creatures, to give a soul to the Encyclical Laudato si ', this time the focus of attention of the new magisterial document is the fraternity (and social friendship) that will be signed in the homeland of San Francisco on the 3rd of October. But what are, or rather, who are the "brothers" of San Francisco? An intimate and revealing answer is found at the beginning of your Will, where, after narrating the encounter with the lepers - to whom Christ led him, because he had an aversion to them - he says: "And after the Lord gave me the frades, nobody showed me what I should do, but the Most High himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the Holy Gospel ".

Os frades, the brothers, therefore, present themselves to Francis, first of all, as a gift from God. An unexpected gift and, to tell the truth, not painless because it brings a new situation that "forces" you to ask the Lord for help, because nobody knows how to tell you what to do. The brothers are not our "achievement", nor are they as we would like them to be. They are the living work of the Creator offered free to each of us. They are donated, so we cannot choose or own them, but only welcome and love them as they are, with their weaknesses and differences. Differences (sometimes dissonant) that in the end only the Lord can recompose because, as the Pope would say, harmony is not made by us, but by the Holy Spirit.

What clearly emerges in Francisco de Assis, and which is confirmed in this fundamental writing in the concluding parable of his earthly life, is that for him fraternity is not an idea, an abstract theory, but a concrete fact, an experience that changes life . In addition to this fact of reality, and even more relevant because it is the source, we discover that for Francis there is no fraternity if we do not recognize (and accept) the common filiation of the heavenly Father. Are all brothers because we are all children of the same Father. Therefore, no one is more foreign than the other. A revolution of perspective that, in Francis' life, will lead to surprising choices recapitulated in the famous visit to the Sultan of Egypt. Here is the nucleus of the conversion of the Saint of Assisi and with it we can say of every woman and man who has authentically met Jesus Christ. For if we do not recognize the Father's common plan of love for us, it will not be enough to be sisters or brothers. Not even biologically. In fact, it is a blood brother who kills Abel. And it kills him because hatred closed Cain's eyes, who, no longer seeing the Father's love, do not even recognize his brother as such.

However, for Francis of Assisi, fraternity is not a "static" gift, an end in itself. It feeds and grows by nourishing charity. And it always brings peace. The relationship with the brothers traces a path, starts a process that develops in a community dimension. It is after meeting with your frades, in fact, that the Lord reveals to him that he must live the Gospel sine glossa, and further says: that one must conform to this, take the very form of the "holy Gospel". However, to do this in a radical way, "without tranquilizers" to resume an effective image of Pope Francis.

For the Patron Saint of Italy, caring for others as himself becomes the privileged path and space for evangelization. Therefore, there cannot be a friar that withdraws in isolation condition. It would be a contradiction, a contrary testimony. For the saint, in fact, the love for the Father grows as much as the love for the brother in whose face the characteristics of the Creator are found. A love that in Francis expands until it becomes cosmic because fraternity becomes a hug for each creature: even the Sun is called brother and sister of Moon.

Eight centuries later, despite the growth of selfishness and the appearance of barriers of all kinds, the world is still thirsty for brotherhood and fatherhood. It is constantly in search of it. The testimony of the poor man of Assisi, who becomes "brother of all men", is more than ever up to date and exhorts us, along with another Francis, to follow the path of fraternity.

Source: Vatican News

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