It’s hard to imagine anyone being more connected to God than Francis of Assisi. His conversion experience began with a mourning period after his plans for knighthood, fame and glory were shattered. This period turned into a pursuit of spiritual direction for Francis. Sorry for feeling sorry for himself, he begged God’s forgiveness. The easy part was over – God understood Francis, but would Francis understand God’s plan for him?
Francis had grown up detesting the sight of people with leprosy. He, like others, would go out of his way to avoid them. But, one day while riding his horse in the countryside, Francis saw a man with leprosy. Like always, he attempted to look the other way. However, a change of heart caused Francis to dismount his horse, approach the leper, put coins in his hand and kiss him.
Who changed Francis’ heart? None other than Jesus. Who did Francis encounter on the side of that country road? None other than Jesus. Jesus transforms the world by changing the way people treat each other. Francis modeled that changed behavior for the rest of his life. Francis saw Jesus in everyone, so how could he treat anyone differently than he would Jesus? If we treat others as Francis did, we, too, can change the world. As we do to others, we do also to Jesus. Be aware – He’s everywhere.