The scars glared back at me from the mirror, and I remembered how they had once been open wounds in my breasts, oozing puss from idiopathic granulomatous mastitis. During my illness, I would prayerfully imagine myself tiny and curled up in the fetal position in the side wound of Christ. And in Christ’s wound, I received His mercy and joy as I offered my suffering and wounds in intercessory prayer.
When Saint Francis of Assisi, whose feast we celebrate today, was forty-three-years old, the Lord revealed to him that he would receive the stigmata with wounds just like Christ’s pierced through his own body. After a retreat of fasting and prayer, on September 17, 1224, our Crucified Lord in the form of a Seraphim appeared to Francis. After the vision, wounds with nails appeared in Francis’ hands and feet and a lance wound appeared in his side.
The Lord asked Francis to share his experience with others for Francis’ own sake, but also for the sake of those who would come to love the Lord through it. Saint Paul, in today’s reading for the feast of Saint Francis, shows us how all of our wounds can become Christ’s wounds. In referring to the wounds of his persecution for Christ’s sake, Paul wrote, “I bear the marks of Jesus on my body” (Galatians 6:17).
While receiving the stigmata is a rare gift, the truth about all our wounds—whether physical or spiritual—is that they can give us joy when we unite them with Christ’s sufferings. This was true for Saint Francis whose “sacred wounds, which had been impressed upon him by Christ, gave great joy to his heart” even while “they caused unspeakable pain to his body” (The Little Flowers of St. Francis).
Sister, we all face suffering and are all wounded in some way. Let us join with Saint Francis in praying, “I am ready to bear patiently whatsoever my Lord shall be pleased to do to me” (Id.). And let us take joy in our suffering with Saint Paul saying in our hearts, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).Our wounds can become Christ’s wounds. // @susannacspencer Click To Tweet
Thank you for being here.
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