“Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11).
While Francis was on his journey to visit the sultan, he stayed overnight in an inn, where he was approached by a prostitute.
St. Francis answered her: “If you wish me to do what you want, you must also do what I want.” “I agree,” she said. “So let’s go and prepare a bed.” And she led him toward a room. But St. Francis said to her: “Come with me, and I will show you a very beautiful bed.” And he led her to a very large fire that was burning in that house at that time. And in fervor of spirit he stripped himself naked and threw himself down on the fire in the fireplace as on a bed. And he called to her, saying: “Undress and come quickly and enjoy this splendid, flowery, and wonderful bed, because you must be here if you wish to obey me!” And he remained there for a long time with a joyful face, resting on the fireplace as though on flowers, but the fire did not burn or singe him.
The roaring fire can easily be seen as the fires of lust and temptation that Francis, in his joyful commitment to his Lord, has managed to overcome. We can imagine that there were others, like the woman in this story, who were inspired by Francis’s chastity. As we approach the final week of Lent, the spiritual stakes are high. At some point in our journey, we each are called to spend time alone with Jesus, hearing him speak to us the words he spoke to the woman in today’s Gospel: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on do not sin anymore.”
—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek