What does Saint Francis have to do with us in the 21st century? Possibly everything.
We are not, in many ways, that far removed from Francis of Assisi. In his day the church had been tainted with greed, and it was in need of renewal. He saw a need for prayer, for a new kind of monasticism, not cloistered off away from the world, but in the thick of it, in the nitty-gritty-ness of every day life. We must also embrace the outcast, those who are “lepers” in our world, as well as those who are simply wandering lost all around us. Francis seemed to have time for anyone in need. Do we have time or are we too busy?
In his day and age he was an apostle, pretty much as the original apostles had been in the Roman world which they had lived, only with the additional challenge of how do you convert people who already see themselves as “christian” at least culturally?
We find ourselves with these challenges and opportunities: How can we be apostolic in our world? The world is our cloister, therefore ministry can happen anywhere. We can be peacemakers in a violent and changing society; ours is changing, and is also very often violent full of angst, hypocricy, and rage.
Man’s anger does not produce the righteousness of God. Father Francis challenged us to walk in peace. Sometimes we fail, but we are called to be missionaries to our local area, to those who are not “christian”; showing the way of Christ and peace. Also, we are to convert many from “christian” to “follower of Jesus.”
As Francis said “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Go.
(“Francis of Assisi” by Cook & Herzman may be helpful for your further exploration)