Ben Franklin said that if you had a 100 kings, only one would not tend to be like Pharaoh (the evil one described in the early chapters of Exodus), if given the chance.
Because of the founders’ realistic, and biblical, belief in man’s corrupt nature, Americans have experienced a great deal of freedom. Countries built on a foundation of man’s supposed innate goodness---like the failed Soviet Union---end up with endless bloodshed.
The Bible also says, inasmuch as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. It’s not always up to us. Francis strikes me as one who tried to live up to that ideal.
Francis was a great peace-maker. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to stop the Crusades. But at least he was able to peacefully present Jesus to the Islamic leader---and live to tell it.
Samuel Escobar notes, “What we learn from history is that the inhumanity of the Crusades was not the only way in which Christians related to Islam in those days. Francis of Assisi pioneered a different approach. In 1219 he managed to cross the lines of battle and gain entrance to the sultan of Egypt. There Francis presented to the sultan the message of Christ in its simplicity and beauty” (Christianity Today, 1994).
G. K. Chesterton added this tribute to Francis: "He…saw the image of God multiplied but never monotonous. To him a man was always a man and did not disappear in a dense crowd any more than in a desert….”
Chesterton added, “What gave him his extraordinary personal power was this; that from the pope to the beggar, from the sultan of Syria in his pavilion to the ragged robbers crawling out of the wood, there was never a man who looked into those brown burning eyes without being certain that Francis Bernardone was really interested in him….”
Francis is the one who created manger scenes---live nativity sets. Galli writes how on Christmas Eve, 1223, he "set before our bodily eyes how he [Jesus] lay in a manger."
I watched a movie recently on this great leader. The man who directed the classic movie, Casablanca, made a film called St. Francis of Assisi in 1961. It’s well done---if you can get past the dreadful music during the opening credits (just one man’s opinion).
Francis, the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church---some 1.2 billion people today---has some pretty big shoes to fill---those of St. Francis of Assisi.
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