“How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?” (John 5:44).
Francis was concerned with the impression that he made on those around him. In his early life, he wanted to be noticed for his fine clothes, courtly manners, and military prowess. After his conversion, he was concerned that people might think him a hypocrite for preaching absolute poverty and then receiving gifts or small luxuries from his admirers. When a medical condition required that Francis wear a softer material (fox skin) next to his body, Francis said: “If you want me to permit this under my tunic, then have a piece of the same size attached to the outside, which, sewn on the outside, will show men that there is a skin hidden inside too.”
Does our outward appearance accurately portray our inner attitude? In some measure, the disciplines of Lent—prayer, fasting, almsgiving— help us to bring these two closer together. But we need to be mindful that we don’t take this too far. If we find ourselves doing these things for the praise we might get from others for our holiness, it’s time to step back and examine our motives and priorities. What we are is more important than what we seem to be.
—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek