Daily Reflection
August 11th, 2003
Maria Teresa Gaston
Center for Service and Justice
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial of St. Clare
Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
Matthew 17:22-27

Both today’s first reading and the life and witness of St. Clare of Assisi, whose feast the Church celebrates today, challenge me to reflect on the call to accompany the poor.

Moses reminds the Israelites how beloved and chosen they are, how privileged and blessed.  He urges them to “circumcise their hearts,” to “be no longer stiff-necked” and to “befriend the alien.”

How central is this “befriending the alien” to Christian discipleship?  Some colleagues and I are struggling with this in our work in ministry with young people.  Does conversion, circumcising our hearts, lead us to mission that necessarily has social and justice implications?

If I personally believe that to stand with Jesus is to take up the cause of the poor, then how is my own life reflecting this?

Perhaps Clare asked herself this after listening to Francis preach Lenten sermons in 1212.  I imagine Clare as a youth from one of the wealthy families of Assisi, in her layers of beautifully woven cloth, stiff with the weight of her role and expectations, insulating her from the poor of her town and her time.  The Good News of “the great God, mighty and awesome,” who executes justice for the orphan and widow and befriends the alien, penetrates her heart.  The layers of protection fall away.  Through Francis’ preaching, her eyes and heart are opened to see that “Christ is the way.”  On Palm Sunday, at the age of 18, she left her comfortable and privileged life and met Francis and the friars in the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, there putting on the cloth of a penitent, cutting her hair as a symbol of her surrendering her attachments and as we say in Spanish, her “entrega,” her total commitment to Christ.  Her desire must have been so strong to ‘follow God’s ways, loving and serving the Lord with all her heart and all her soul!’  She embraced and clung to “Lady Poverty” in order to free herself to embrace Christ.  Many others followed her and at Francis’ urging she founded a women’s community at San Damiano today known as the Poor Clares.  (See All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time by Robert Ellsberg.)

Many young women and men today are struggling with your call to them, Lord.  They seek to serve you.  Many are responding generously and prophetically to your call to love and serve you with all their hearts and souls and to ‘befriend the alien.’
Give them the courage and support they need to deepen in intimacy with you and to forge new models of Christian community as Francis and Clare did 800 years ago.

Help those of us in ministry with them to keep up!  Free us also to befriend the alien and take up the cause of the poor.


Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook