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Let Us Sow Love (MCC Weekly Reflection Series, May 2009)
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
- Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
The other night, I watched a film called Brother Sun, Sister Moon. It’s Franco Zeffirelli’s beautiful story of St. Francis and St. Clare, filmed on location in Italy. The movie shows both of the protagonists leaving their lives of privilege to help the poor and, ultimately, establish new mendicant (begging) orders of monks and nuns.
This film spoke to me on many levels. The sweeping beauty of the Italian landscape was a delight to my eyes. The film’s original score, by Scottish folk musician Donovan, was a treat to my ears. There was one constant theme that I’ve been thinking about ever since I watched the movie: how kind Francis and Clare were to the outcasts.
We first see Clare taking loaves of bread to the lepers who live outside of town, calling them “brothers.” Francis, the son of a wealthy silk merchant, obviously takes her example to heart. Soon, we see him helping the dyers and weavers out of their dark workplaces and into the sun to breathe clean air, away from dangerous pigments.
Francis develops a small following of young men who assist him in his work among the poor, rebuilding a ruined chapel, relieving field workers and feeding the hungry before they take sustenance themselves. Clare eventually comes to live in the community as well, for all are welcome.
In many ways, this is a story about each one of us. We have been cast out by our community in some way and so feel the wonder of welcome and inclusion at MCC. We know the warmth of a stranger’s smiling greeting. We know that a kind word from us may be the thing that keeps someone hanging on during a fragile time – because we have been there ourselves – and so we offer the words from our hearts.
This is the message of Francis: sow love. When we are kind, love grows.