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Francis and John the Baptist
Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, December 8, 2013

St. Francis’s sharper edges have been somewhat softened by time and the popular imagination. But Francis would have understood John the Baptist.

Francis accepted somewhat reluctantly the pope’s command to the Lesser Brothers to preach the Word of God as they wandered the street. Once he accepted that call, he didn’t hesitate to call people to repentance. But he always tempered his words with the mercy and love of God. He told his followers:

“We must bring forth therefore fruits befitting repentance (Luke 3:8) and love our neighbors as ourselves. Anyone who will not or cannot love his neighbor as himself should at least do him good and not do him any harm. Those who have been entrusted with the power of judging others should pass judgment mercifully just as they themselves hope to obtain mercy from God. For judgment is without mercy to him who has not shown mercy (James 2:13). We must be charitable, too, and humble, and give alms…. We lose everything which we leave behind us in this world; we can bring with us only the right to a reward for our charity and the alms we have given” (Letter to All the Faithful).

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