Short homily No. 1 from Oberammergau Passion Play Pilgrimage

October 4, 2022


More than St. Francis of Assisi, October 4 is always a special day for me, as I remember the 85th wedding anniversary of my parents, Raymond and Margaret in Concord, California at Queen of All Saints Church in 1936.  I would be born in 1940.

A wedding day, a future life, the Spirit of St. Francis, a prayer for peace, the dream renewal each year that we would follow and live Jesus as authentically as possible.  May this be our prayer and our hope.  And may we do something prophetically true about it, truly, a promise we make today!


We don’t have to live a frivolous life before we know Jesus as a real person for our lives and take him seriously – at his word, to be more than a follower or a hanger-on – but to fall in love with him and desire to be “Him.”

That is what happened to Francis of Assisi.

In one sense, each one of us is called to “repair” the Church as Francis was, which is more than practicing devotions and services of action, but even more to be another one who hangs on the crosses of life to breathe love and spirit into our lives.

The real practice is a real living, a real being, someone who is more than I am.

The breakthrough for Francis was when he kissed a leper whom he met on the road.

For me, it was the moment when my ordination was denied to me because I challenged an older Church with new ideas and was considered unorthodox.  My world in the Church was challenged, and I was told to kneel before the crucifix and be humble.

It was not the crucifix of San Damiano, but it was a real moment to trust God and to learn humility.  The challenge passed in a couple of years and here I am 55 years later.

We do not plan the moments of grace.  The moments of grace find us and change us and remain with us.

Where and when was your breakthrough?  How have you deepened your profound awareness of the ever-present Jesus in the experiences of your life?

St. Francis reminds us and invites us to a strict faithfulness to the gospel – to listen to a personal call from Jesus, to be his Gospel genuinely, to seek to live in the soul of Jesus, to find the full and possible path to be a living model of human and cosmic community!

Francis is more than a statue for our garden; Rather, he is a model and an encouragement to live what is real and genuine.

St. Paul tells us today that he had to go through that change as well, that finally, he came to know that he indeed was set apart to hear a new revelation of how to be and how to live, “the one who was once persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”

Perhaps, we are not trying to destroy it, but maybe we do not seem to have “the fire” for it.

In today’s gospel, Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus, became his very dear friends, each having a unique friendship that was deeply touching and intimate.

Both remind us to find “the better part,” not a matter of competition or distorted personalism.

For Martha and Mary, for Francis, for each one of us, we discover the better part, not by running away from Jesus, but rather by welcoming him into the home of our heart as a friend!

Jesus can be our personal friend, each friendship different and personal, from each other.  It does no particular good to compare.  He becomes our friend, and each is different and unique!  Francis found his friend Jesus, and may we find ours!

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