Marks of Christ
This week was the second week in our sermon series Sinners and Saints. In this series, we have been looking at several of the saints of the church and discovering what we can learn from their stories as it relates to our own journey as disciples. This week we talked about St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.
St. Francis and St. Clare were both born in the late 1100s in Assisi, Italy. Both of them were born to wealthy families and enjoyed comfortable lives with high status in their community. Francis was a popular man who was known as quite the partier during his teenage years. Clare was a beautiful woman, who had many suitors at her doorstep. Both of them realized there was something missing from their luxurious, comfortable life though, and several key encounters sent both of them on a different trajectory. After a moving encounter with a leper and hearing the voice of God say to him “Repair my church, which has fallen into disrepair, as you can see,” Francis decided to walk in the way of Jesus. He lived out in the open, serving the poor and sick and living among them, and bearing witness to the gospel each day. Clare heard a series of Francis’ Lenten sermons in 1212, and she decided to walk in this path of ladies. While Francis had a band of 12 brothers that lived together in this way, Clare founded the Order of Poor Ladies, an order for women to serve others, pray, and live simple lives.
Both Francis and Clare lived out Paul’s call in Galatians 2:20- “I have been crucified with Christ, so that I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” As the legend goes, one day Francis was praying and focusing on Christ so much that he received the stigmata, which is the actual wounds of Christ’s crucifixion in his hands and his feet. Francis’ identity was so wrapped up in Christ and he focused so much on becoming like Christ that he bore the marks of Christ in his body. Both Francis and Clare are incredible witnesses to living like Christ in how they served the poor and sick in society. They looked and lived like the people they served. They didn’t boast in wealth, appearance, or acceptance of others, they boasted in the cross of Jesus Christ alone.
God does not call us to be another St. Francis or St. Clare, and we don’t have to follow in their exact footsteps, but their is a path to holiness within our own circumstances and using our own gifts and talents to respond to the needs of our neighbors here and now. While we struggle in boasting in the things of this world, St. Francis and St. Clare teach us to boast in the cross and bear the marks of Christ to the world.
Monday- Galatians 6:14-18
Tuesday- Matthew 11:25-30
Wednesday- 1 Peter 4:1-2
Thursday- Jeremiah 22:13-16
Friday- Psalm 63:1-8
Questions to Consider and Discuss
1. What intrigues you about St. Francis and St. Clare’s life? What challenges you about their life?
2. What can we learn from St. Francis and St. Clare in how we serve others, particularly people who are poor?