A little under 1000 years ago in Italy there lived a man named Giovanni de Bernadone, but his friends call him Francis. Francis was a Christ follower, and if her were here today he would be the first to tell you that he didn’t understand completely what that means. But he lived his life in poverty and faithfulness and trusted the rest would work itself out.
He read the bible simply and literally. When he encountered Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” where I would debate canonicity, Francis simply took God’s word for it, and endeavored to preach to rocks and birds.
At In the midst of the crusades he was praying by the old church of San Damingiano outside his hometown. He heard Christ’s voice from the cross say to him “Rebuild my church which is in ruins” and Francis did as Francis does, proceeding to literally rebuild that church one stone at a time.
While he was working some people started to follow him, then some other people got mad about the movement he created. The pope got involved, some great stories took place, and then he got old and died. He was never ordained.
Fast forward back to the present. There are no fewer than 3 major ecclesiastical movements started as a result of his faith, millions have been inspired by his life, and a new pope has been elected. A humble argentine named Jorge, who took the name of Francis in the highest office of Christendom following the reign of Pope Emeritus Palpatine to do just what Francis endeavored to all those years ago. Rebuild the church which is in Ruins.
But you knew that. What’s my point?
It’s striking to me how long-lasting the influence he had has lasted, and indeed how long it will last. Francis is arguably more influential now than he ever was when he was alive, an we can expect that influence will only increase- forever.
I believe that Francesco possesses an immortal soul which lives even now, but suppose I have taken scripture overly literally. Suppose even that I have chosen the wrong religion, or that I was wrong to choose religion in the first place. Even still through his humble faith, even his gullibility, Francis has apparently achieved what was promised of the saints. Eternal life. Eternal influence. He traded the opportunity to be a wealthy silk merchant for a couple decades for the opportunity to serve the poor for the next thousand years and beyond.
It was a good trade