St. Francis of Assisi has always been considered a great man of forgiveness. Why? Because he recognized the power of forgiveness and the impact it could have in healing and transforming men and women. He also lived out this truth. Here is a story from his life that demonstrates this in a dramatic way.
One day Francis met an acquaintance of his who looked troubled, and he asked him: “Brother, how are things with you?” The man immediately began to rant against his master, saying, “Thanks to my master May God curse him! I have had nothing but misfortune. He has taken away all that I possess.”
Francis was filled with pity for the man, and said, “Brother, pardon your master for the love of God, and free your own soul; it's possible that he will restore to you whatever he has taken away. Otherwise, you have lost your goods and will lose your soul as well.”
But the man said, “I can't fully forgive him unless he returns what he has taken from me.” Francis answered, “Look, I will give you this cloak; I beg you to forgive your master for the love of the Lord God.” The man's heart was melted by this kindness, and he forgave his master. Immediately, he was filled with joy.
St. Francis was truly a man of forgiveness, a peacemaker who became a channel of God's grace to others. We can become like St. Francis. When we pray for those who have offended us, it frees us to love as God loves. God's grace has power not only to change us, but those who have done us injury as well.
(This article by Maurice Blumberg was part of the Catholic Men’s E-zine, Being a Man of Forgiveness, (September-October 2002 issue) which is available on the NFCM website. You may e-mail them at email@example.com. Many thanks to the The Word Among Us for allowing us to include some material from various daily meditations.)
Reflection Questions on Page 2
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Why did St. Francis believe that the man he met needed to forgive his master “to free his own soul”? Is there anyone you need to forgive to free your soul?
2. Do you think it was no big deal for St. Francis’ to be willing to give his cloak to the man? Why or why not? (Keep in mind that St. Francis had already given away all his possessions and had taken a vow of poverty. The cloak was probably the only one he owned and probably one of his few possessions.) Why do you think this act of St. Francis melted the unforgiving heart of the man?
3. Share a time when an act of kindness by you melted a person’s heart. What other people in your life can you go out of your way to show an act of kindness?
4. In Romans 9:2-4, we hear these words of St. Paul: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” Like St. Francis, St. Paul had a heart of mercy. Why do you think he was willing to take such a drastic step for the sake of his people? What is the impact of St. Paul’s words on you?