“If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation” (John 11:48).
Even after his conversion, Francis retains something of his antipathy for the Perugians, historical enemies of Assisi and the faction that imprisoned him in his fighting days:
Coming therefore to Perugia, he began to preach to the people who had gathered about; but when some knights rode up on their horses, as is their custom, and crossing their weapons in a military exercise, interfered with his words, the saint turned toward them and sighing, said: “O miserable folly of wretched men who do not consider nor fear the judgment of God! But listen to what the Lord announces to you through me, poor little one. The Lord,” he said, “has exalted you above all others around you; for this reason you should be kinder to your neighbors and you should live in a way more pleasing to God. But, ungrateful for God’s grace, you attack your neighbors with arms, kill and plunder them. I say to you: this will not go unpunished; but, for your greater punishment, God will cause you to fall into civil war, so that one will rise against the other in mutual sedition. Wrath will teach you, for kindness has not taught you.”
The point of this story is not that God punishes our temporal enemies. Rather, it shows the logical conclusion of those who steadfastly refuse to adopt a life of peace, kindness, love of God and neighbor. It also suggests that trying to wield worldly, political power will nearly always end in disaster.
—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek