"May God bless you with discomfort… hardened hearts, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live from deep within your heart where God’s Spirit dwells.
May God bless you with tears… to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war so that you will comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness… to believe that you can make a difference in this world and in your neighborhood, so that you will courageously try what you don’t think you can do, but, in Jesus Christ you’ll have the strength necessary to do.
May God bless you that you remember… we are all called to continue God’s redemptive work of love and healing in God’s place, in and through God’s name, in God’s Spirit, continually creating and breathing new life and grace into everything and everyone we touch."
You may not know any Franciscan Monks like St. Francis of Assisi or William of Occam but I’m sure you’ve heard of Friar Tuck of Robin Hood fame. He was the bald fat guy who had a love of food and ale, skilled with a sword and who willingly and often quarreled with those who slighted him or deprived him of food. And he put a face on male-pattern baldness.
In the Robin Hood literature he is a caricature of what a Friar should be:
Devoted to his Church and the people he serves
Using his wits to spare his parishioners injustice
Provides for them education and shelter from harm
Using the rights and power of the Church to effect good
That’s the rub so to speak. In our twitter, email, text messaging world we find ourselves creating caricatures of the people we meet and worship with – especially those that are on the fringe of our relationship time. It is quick and easy to make and pass judgment on 2 minutes of conversation or 5 lines of a text message. And Lord knows I’m guilty of that.
But isn’t that the beauty of the Friar’s prayer? A reminder that discomfort is not to be dispatched with haste so that we can go about the pursuit of happiness, or the need for a tender heart for those we see dressed up but are only putting up the brave front to better fit in with our ‘ideal’ of Christian. We do need to remember that we are called to minister to others as we are able because the world needs to hear that Jesus still transforms lives.
I think St. Francis was thinking of Paul as he wrote the second Corinthian letter.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor. 1:3-5, NIV)
Who are we comforting in our times of trouble?
Visit and help me, for the sake of Your great mercy. Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence Your holy will and Your unsearchable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice to You. I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will. Teach me to pray. Amen.