“When the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life” (Ezekiel 18:27).
One of the best-known stories of St. Francis is that of his taming the fierce wolf of Gubbio. Francis speaks to the wolf that has been terrorizing the town. He addresses him from the beginning as “Brother Wolf” and so acknowledges a connection with the creature. He asks the wolf to agree to stop murdering the townspeople. Then he uses the opportunity to preach to the people about their own need for penance and forgiveness.
“So, dear people,” he said, “come back to the Lord, and do fitting penance, and God will free you from the wolf in this world and from the devouring fire of hell in the next world.” And having said that, he added: “Listen, dear people. Brother Wolf, who is standing here before you, has promised me and has given me a pledge that he will make peace with you and will never hurt you if you promise also to feed him every day. And I pledge myself as bondsman for Brother Wolf that he will faithfully keep this peace pact.”
Jesus and Francis both know that often the evil that we see and hate in others reflects some shadowy part of our own attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors. The wolf of Gubbio is a reminder to us that we need to confront our fears and anger, taming them with the love of God.
—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek