In a falling down church Francis had a vision of Jesus in which Francis was instructed to “Rebuild my church.”
At first he took this very literal, rebuilding the stones and mortar of the small chapel, but, ultimately, the Franciscan movement became a much needed revitalization of the church by mainly lay-people as hardly any of the early Franciscans were ordained clergy. Prayer and street preaching were the primary jobs of this mendicant order who relied on God, work, and begging for their basic sustenance.
Not even having a monastery to call their own, they slept wherever they could: in the woods, the fields, and even in a large medieval town oven on cold nights after the embers had died down from the baking of bread, but the stone was still warm. A dozen people or more would squeeze in to escape the cold.
Here Francis realized Christ’s presence surrounded by the poor and homeless. He looked into their faces, and there he saw Jesus.
Lord, open our eyes that we may see Christ all around us. Help us to welcome Christ as we welcome others. Help us to encounter Jesus when visiting the sick, feeding the hungry friend, and even praying for our “enemy.” Amen.