Embrace the Gospel as you embrace Jesus, says the Pope.
Pope Francis on November 15 addressed members of the Secular Franciscan Order, in Rome for their general chapter. He urged them to live a path of conversion as St. Francis did.
Their patroness, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, has her feast day tomorrow.
“Your vocation is born of the universal call to holiness,” the Pope told these followers of St. Francis. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that ‘lay people share in Christ’s priesthood: Ever more united with Him, they exhibit the grace of Baptism and Confirmation in all dimensions of their personal family, social and ecclesial lives, and fulfill the call to holiness addressed to all the baptized.”
From bitter to sweet
Pope Francis outlined the steps of St. Francis’ own conversion: Under God’s own initiative, He leads the penitent where he would not want to go, the penitent accepts, and the result is happiness.
The process of conversion is thus: God takes the initiative: “The Lord gave to me to begin to do penance.” God leads the penitent to places where he would never have wanted to go: “God led me among them, the lepers.” The penitent responds by accepting to place himself at the service of others and by using mercy with them. And the result is happiness: “That which had seemed to me bitter was changed into sweetness of mind and body.” Exactly the path of conversion taken by Francis.
The Pope urged that the Secular Franciscans would follow this path, going like Francis did to the outskirts, to minister to those experiencing today’s types of poverty.
“The vocation of the Secular Franciscan,” he said, “is to live the Gospel in the world in the style of the Poverello, sine glossa; to take the Gospel as the “form and rule” of life. I urge you to embrace the Gospel as you embrace Jesus. Let the Gospel, that is, Jesus Himself, shape your life.