Sunday, December 2, 2007

Francis Brings Peace at Gubbio
Lessons from the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi

As Francis’ reputation for holiness and peace spread throughout his native Italy, people called upon him to resolve their disputes and to deliver them from danger and violence. On one such occasion, the people of the small town of Gubbio alerted Francis to the presence of a ferocious wolf in their countryside. All efforts to trap the wolf or drive him away had failed, so they called upon the Saint to intervene.

St Francis went out with only the message of the Gospel: no weapon, no sanctions, no threatening bravado. Francis met the wolf and called him to repentance for the chaos and harm that he had caused.

The wolf and the townspeople agreed to live in peace; the wolf would refrain from attacks and the townspeople would feed the wolf for the rest of his life.

As is frequently the case, such pious legends often have a basis in history and scholars have long thought that this popular narrative of Francis exercising miraculous power over the world of animals has at its core a factual account of no lesser spiritual importance.

It may well be that the term “Wolf of Gubbio” signifies an epithet attached to a notorious outlaw of the period, who both raided livestock and robbed people as well. Confronted by armed villagers, the “Wolf” nonetheless prevailed, being either more skillful with weapons or more ruthless in nature. Francis, however, neither confronted him with arms nor threatened him by sanctions. Rather, he challenged the robber in the name of the Lord to reconcile with his victims and so to experience the peace that only Christ can bring.

Thus, the legend of the “Wolf of Gubbio” points to a more enduring dimension of Francis’ historical ministry, namely, the reconciliation of sinners and their reintegration into the fabric of social life through the grace of forgiveness.

Heavenly Father,help us to make peace in our dayand to experience reconciliation in our lives.May our anger and hurt give wayto affection and understanding for others.We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.