By Dr. BJ Gonzalvo
“Francis, why you? Why are people always after you?”
This is the question Brother Masseo asked Saint Francis upon noticing the large crowds he drew in virtually every town they visited.
Francis, curious to know the reason behind the question, replied, “What do you mean, Brother Masseo?”
“I mean, why is everyone running after you? Everywhere we go, why does everyone want to see you or hear you and obey you? You’re not a handsome man. You’re not a learned man. You’re not a nobleman. So why is everybody after you?”
Upon hearing Brother Masseo’s question, Francis rejoiced in humility, lifted up his gaze toward heaven, knelt down, thanked the Lord, and began to address Brother Masseo’s question. He responded by quoting 1 Corinthians 1:27:
“God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” Praise God that I am none of these you described. God chose me for there is no other more sinful and more unworthy. God is showing the path to simplicity and truth and that He does this through such lowly dirt as me.
Saint Francis didn’t leave us any major writings, or wall posts, or photos. He didn’t intend to have such a large following and probably wouldn’t have cared about getting social media likes and being “Instagram-perfect.” But as it turned out, Francis had become one of the most influential figures in history.
Francis preached and if necessary, he used words. He didn’t just use words to address Christian poverty, he lived it, giving up all his belongings. He didn’t just say words about peace, he lived it, even venturing out to Jerusalem during a tumultuous period in history, the Crusades. He never sought out a following, but it was through his authenticity, humility, faith, and charity that followers found him. His path of simplicity and truth is timeless and is still the trending path to God today that should go viral.
Eight hundred years later, Saint Francis continues to be the ultimate enduring influencer who promotes God’s message of peace, hope, and love to this world. Now that’s something worth sharing over and over!
This article first appeared in Busted Halo.
BJ Gonzalvo, PhD, is a psychologist and an immigrant from the Philippines (now living in Washington) whose research focuses on retracing the indigenous roots of his core value of kapwa to help reframe and rediscover the sacredness of our interconnectedness. His writing, where he often integrates culture, psychology, and spirituality, has appeared in Northwest Catholic, Busted Halo, FilCatholic, and Mind & Spirit. He is the author of Lead Like the Saints (Paulines, 2019) and an upcoming book, Gift of Kapwa (2021). @saintlynest