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„Everything praises God. Darkness, privations, defects, evil too, praise God and bless God.’

- Meister Eckhart

Everyone here speaks from their own experience. This is what gives us authenticity. We all have our own perspective, our own piece of the truth. That is why we need to listen to each other. On this Easter day I want to talk about beauty wealth, pain, poverty and letting go, about St Francis.

Francis came from Assisi, Italy, and lived in the Middle Ages. He invented the crib and has been badly sentimentalised as an animal-lover who dropped out of the real world to live on the streets among the poor. He was a man of the middle classes, had a wealthy father and a good life. This was the time of the troubadours, of the tradition of chivalry, and he aspired to be a noble knight leading a life of courtly love and carrying out bold deeds of daring and valour for his lady.

This he gave up to follow Christ. He made a deliberate choice to live in extreme poverty, to embrace ‘Lady Poverty’ and to live his life among the marginalised. His chosen way of life was so radical, people probably thought he was mad. He was impulsive, a man of the dramatic. When he renounced his possessions, he stripped naked in public to give back to his father even the clothes off his back. Francis came to be loved as a man of passion, a man who followed his heart and was full of joy because he did what he felt he had to.Opening Having randomly opened the Gospel he read: ‘Take no gold or silver or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals, or a staff, for labourers deserve their food.’ (Matt 10:9) His response: ‘This is what I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with all my heart!’

His life wasn`t without its darker sides. He founded the Franciscans, which against his own wishes became incorporated into the institution of the Church. He preached reverence and obedience to the Church but maintained a serenity and detached distance from it. His vision focused on the Gospel ideals of simplicity, humility and poverty.

He had no programme for political or social reform, although no doubt he had no difficulty in seeing the wrongs of his society and church. He simply sought to follow Christ and to love creation as his brothers and sisters. ‘Lord, if we had goods, we would also have to have arms to defend them. It is from wealth that questions and lawsuits come, and thus the love of God and love of neighbour are hindered in many ways. Therefore we do not want to have any possessions in this world.’

Francis was a very down-to-earth sort of man. He was very human. Full of contradictions and full of struggles, especially in the early days. He kept trying but was drawn back over and over again by his friends, the pleasure and ease of his life at home, his love of ambition. Letting go of all these things was a gradual and painful process for him.

Material deprivation that is caused by injustice and inequity is probably ‘the worst form of violence’, as Gandhi said. But Francis gave up his wealth freely which led to liberation from the things we use to cover up and surpress our deepest longings. And the further he pursued this life, the more joy and freedom he found. Poverty led to a simplicity of life that was the greatest wealth, precious treasure, the pearl of great price. A way to the true self.

By letting go does not mean that like Francis we have to Strip naked, it means that we free ourselves from a dependency on material things. Things of the world that we may enjoy and take delight in. Our letting go may be voluntary, chosen. Or we may be pruned by the events of our lives. By ill-health, losing someone we love, the enduring sadness of seeing the suffering of those we love, by injustice, by a betrayal of trust. We may lose our home, our security, our job, our position in society. We may be forced to let go of so many things we value, kicking, screaming, cursing, feeling torn apart by pain and loss. If we do not run from pain, or bury it, or cling to it — if we embrace it and let it be, pain will transform us. A wealth of compassion, awareness, understanding may be created. Jesus died dirty, ugly, bloody and naked. But never-the-less beautiful.

We are called to be co-creators with the Force. We are called to make our life a work of art. And by realising our own beauty we will be in the Position to recognise the beauty of all Creation, the sanctity of life, which has the right to exist in itself, not according to how useful it is to us, or whether it benefits us.

On this note I wich all Jede a blessed Easter feast day filled with the revealing power of the Force.

„Everything praises God. Darkness, privations, defects, evil too, praise God and bless God.’

- Meister Eckhart

Everyone here speaks from their own experience. This is what gives us authenticity. We all have our own perspective, our own piece of the truth. That is why we need to listen to each other. On this Easter day I want to talk about beauty wealth, pain, poverty and letting go, about St Francis.

Francis came from Assisi, Italy, and lived in the Middle Ages. He invented the crib and has been badly sentimentalised as an animal-lover who dropped out of the real world to live on the streets among the poor. He was a man of the middle classes, had a wealthy father and a good life. This was the time of the troubadours, of the tradition of chivalry, and he aspired to be a noble knight leading a life of courtly love and carrying out bold deeds of daring and valour for his lady.

This he gave up to follow Christ. He made a deliberate choice to live in extreme poverty, to embrace ‘Lady Poverty’ and to live his life among the marginalised. His chosen way of life was so radical, people probably thought he was mad. He was impulsive, a man of the dramatic. When he renounced his possessions, he stripped naked in public to give back to his father even the clothes off his back. Francis came to be loved as a man of passion, a man who followed his heart and was full of joy because he did what he felt he had to.Opening Having randomly opened the Gospel he read: ‘Take no gold or silver or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals, or a staff, for labourers deserve their food.’ (Matt 10:9) His response: ‘This is what I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with all my heart!’

His life wasn`t without its darker sides. He founded the Franciscans, which against his own wishes became incorporated into the institution of the Church. He preached reverence and obedience to the Church but maintained a serenity and detached distance from it. His vision focused on the Gospel ideals of simplicity, humility and poverty.

He had no programme for political or social reform, although no doubt he had no difficulty in seeing the wrongs of his society and church. He simply sought to follow Christ and to love creation as his brothers and sisters. ‘Lord, if we had goods, we would also have to have arms to defend them. It is from wealth that questions and lawsuits come, and thus the love of God and love of neighbour are hindered in many ways. Therefore we do not want to have any possessions in this world.’

Francis was a very down-to-earth sort of man. He was very human. Full of contradictions and full of struggles, especially in the early days. He kept trying but was drawn back over and over again by his friends, the pleasure and ease of his life at home, his love of ambition. Letting go of all these things was a gradual and painful process for him.

Material deprivation that is caused by injustice and inequity is probably ‘the worst form of violence’, as Gandhi said. But Francis gave up his wealth freely which led to liberation from the things we use to cover up and surpress our deepest longings. And the further he pursued this life, the more joy and freedom he found. Poverty led to a simplicity of life that was the greatest wealth, precious treasure, the pearl of great price. A way to the true self.

By letting go does not mean that like Francis we have to Strip naked, it means that we free ourselves from a dependency on material things. Things of the world that we may enjoy and take delight in. Our letting go may be voluntary, chosen. Or we may be pruned by the events of our lives. By ill-health, losing someone we love, the enduring sadness of seeing the suffering of those we love, by injustice, by a betrayal of trust. We may lose our home, our security, our job, our position in society. We may be forced to let go of so many things we value, kicking, screaming, cursing, feeling torn apart by pain and loss. If we do not run from pain, or bury it, or cling to it — if we embrace it and let it be, pain will transform us. A wealth of compassion, awareness, understanding may be created. Jesus died dirty, ugly, bloody and naked. But never-the-less beautiful.

We are called to be co-creators with the Force. We are called to make our life a work of art. And by realising our own beauty we will be in the Position to recognise the beauty of all Creation, the sanctity of life, which has the right to exist in itself, not according to how useful it is to us, or whether it benefits us.

On this note I wich all Jede a blessed Easter feast day filled with the revealing power of the Force.