"One winter's day, bitterly cold, St Francis was travelling with Brother Leo, when St Francis said "I hope that God will allow the 'Little Brothers' (the name he adopted for the Franciscan Order) to be an example of holiness all over the world. However, even if they achieve this they will not find perfect joy.
Even if the Little Brothers give sight to the blind, heal the sick, cast out demons, give hearing to the deaf, or even raise the dead – they still will not find perfect joy.
If a Brother knew all the languages of the world, all science, and all scripture, if he could prophesy and even read minds and hearts – he would still be a long way from perfect joy.
If he could speak the language of angels and understood all of the earth's deepest secrets even in this he would not find perfect joy."
Leo was amazed and questioned the Saint, "Father, in God's name, I beg you, please tell how to find perfect joy." Francis replied "When we arrive at our destination, soaked with rain, frozen, covered with mud and dying of hunger and we knock at the door of a local inn, and the landlord angrily refuses us entry and accuses of taking money from the poor and preaching a false gospel and leaves us outside in the snow and rain all night, frozen andstarved. Yet we, so abused and rejected, refuse to defend ourselves or think badly of him; but instead humbly accept that he knows us better than we know ourselves and that God is simply using him to correct us, then we shall know perfect joy. Above all the graces and gifts the Holy Spirit gives to his friends is the grace to conquer ourselves and to willingly suffer pain, outrage, disgrace, and evil treatment for the love of Christ."
When I think how quickly I sometimes leap to justify and defend myself, when I consider how ready I am to jump to conclusions and to hastily judge another's motives then I realise how far I fall short of what God expects.
Let's all heed Paul's words to the Ephesians (4:1-3) "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Grace and peace, A