Francis was a true lover of Christ, according to Bonaventure, because he was perfectly conformed to the Crucified Christ both in spirit and in flesh. The stigmatized Francis signifies to Bonaventure that if one desires happiness and peace, one must contemplate God and strive for mystical union through conformity to Christ Crucified, the Word of God.
[St.] Francis was enough of a realist to know that this view from the bottom would never become fashionable. Yet his commitment to littleness led him to name his brothers “minors” so that they would never fall back again in to the worldview of the “majors” (the great, the nobility). He knew that there was power in being a somebody, but that there was truth in being a nobody. He always opted for the truth, and from the example of Jesus crucified knew that the Lord would create power out of that.
We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ; rather, it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. The goal of prayer, therefore, is to be transformed into the image of the crucified Spouse. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.
~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer
The way to the goal of the spiritual journey, therefore, is only through the most burning love. But love demands a price. Insofar as the specific object of St. Francis’s reflection is the crucified Christ, when the religious subject is bound to such an object in the furnace of burning love, it becomes clear why at least the spirit of St. Francis would be deeply marked by the cruciform love of Christ. But because of the intensity of this experience, that which marked the soul poured over into his body as well. As the Journey of the Soul into God puts it: “his spirit shone through his flesh” (JS prol. 3 [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][5:295]).
~ Zachary Hayes OFM, Bonaventure: Mystical Writings[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
St. Francis didn’t seek to bear the wounds of the crucified Christ (nobody wants that!), but his life had become so like the Son’s that even his body began to bear a resemblance to the physical condition of Christ in his passion. May we look to Francis as a model of following Christ.
~ Daniel P. Horan, OFM, “The Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis”
Jesus was crucified, in part, because he did not come to preach a word that kept things the way they were, but instead was sent to proclaim the in-breaking of God’s Reign, which is about the establishment of justice and not the earthly status quo of injustice and violence. In other words, Jesus was not sent to be a “nice guy,” because nice guys don’t rock the boat nor do they upset people by challenging the way things are. And, oh, how Jesus upset certain people who had so much to lose because they had gained all — power, wealth, status, etc. — at the expense of others!
~ Daniel P. Horan, OFM, Jesus Was Not Such A ‘Nice Guy’
Clare reminds us that the Christian God is a crucified God. Any other type of God is one of our own projections and desires, an idolatrous God who we create in our own image.
~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer