Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Genesis 37:3–4, 12–13a, 17b–28a;
Psalm 105:16–17, 18–19, 20–21;
Matthew 21:33–43, 45–46
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” —Matthew 21:42
Franciscan visitors to the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome take a special delight in a sculpture of Francis, arms raised, that stands a block or two away. Looking at the basilica from behind the statue, it appears that Francis is holding up the church. The inspiration for this is a story told of Francis and Pope Innocent III. Francis had traveled to Rome to seek the pope’s approval for this new way of life he wanted to share with the brothers the Lord had inspired to follow him.
The pope, at first disinclined to grant Francis’s request, had dreamed of just such a person.
He had seen in his sleep the Lateran basilica about to fall to ruin, when a certain religious, small and despised, propped it up by putting his own back under it lest it fall. “Surely,” he said, “this is that man who, by his works and by the teaching of Christ, will give support to the Church.” …Therefore, filled with love of God he always showed a special love toward the servant of Christ. And therefore he quickly granted what had been asked, and he promised to grant even greater things than these.
In spite of his radical commitment to live the Gospel, apart from many of the cultural institutions that had influenced the Church by the thirteenth century, Francis still remained a faithful, obedient son of the Church.
He insisted on having the pope’s approval of his Rule, even though he believed that way of life had come to him directly from God. Francis and his followers were committed to supporting and building up the Church, all the while reforming it from within and bringing it always into greater conformation to the Gospel.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.