(Graciousness — Gratitude — Gentleness — Generosity)
All marveled at the gracious words that came from His mouth.
(Luke 4: 22)
More than twenty centuries after our Lord's memorable sermon in the
synagogue of Nazareth, believers still marvel at the
gracious words which come from the mouth of our Savior. We
marvel too at the grateful words which sprang forth
so naturally from the lips of Jesus: I give you thanks, O
Father! Father, I thank You! When God revealed
Himself in the flesh, He did so with a graciousness and gratitude
which amaze and inspire.
From the graciousness and the gratitude
of the Lord, we also find the flowering of His gentleness.
Jesus was such a gentleman! an old priest once exclaimed. A
close reading of the Gospels confirms Father's enthusiastic insight
which had become for him a standard of life. Although our Lord could
be firm, and even stern when needed, an abiding gentleness
marked His words, actions, teaching and responses. The frightened
and the little ones knew they were safe with Him. The sick and the
sinful sought Him, certain that they would not be turned away. In
every circumstance, the Word Incarnate verified what God had
revealed of Himself to Moses and what the psalmist had celebrated
for centuries: Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger
and abounding in kindness.... As a father is gentle with his
children, so is the Lord with those who revere Him. (Psalm 103)
gratitude and gentleness of Jesus are
likewise manifested in His unfailing generosity. The Gospels depict
our Lord's earthly pilgrimage as an unbounded willingness to give of
His time, His energy, His love, His mercy and even His very life.
He emptied Himself is St. Paul's succinct description of the
generosity of Jesus who, for our salvation, took
the form of a slave and became obedient even to death on the Cross.
All of this was not lost on St.
Francis of Assisi. Once he knew that he was called to observe the
holy Gospel, the Little Poor Man was eager to sing the new song of
his life in Christ in the spiritual "key of G." God's grace lifted
Francis' natural courtesy and chivalry to the realm of Jesus'
graciousness and gentleness.
People were attracted by the gracious words of the
merchant's son. They were impressed by the unfailing
gentleness of him who not long before had set out to wage
great wars and become a great knight.
In singing his life in the "key of
G," St. Francis quickly discovered that gracious words and
gentle manners freed him for generous service of God and neighbor.
The future saint of Assisi, even in his father's cloth shop, had
never been a man of "half measures." Touched by divine grace, a
generosity like that of Jesus marked every aspect of Francis' life —
his prayer, his penance, his missionary zeal, his love for his
brothers, his devoted service to the poor. And because he never
counted anything but his blessings, Francis quickly became a man of
unceasing gratitude. He thanked God for being God;
he thanked God for giving him a crust of bread to eat and a stream
of water from which to drink. As Francis' life's song rose to an
ever higher pitch, he even thanked God for the trials and pains that
united him to Christ Crucified.
The Lord invites us also to sing a new
song with our lives. Why not begin in the "key of G," and discover
how graciousness and gratitude,
gentleness and generosity can
become a permanent hymn of praise to our God and of hope to His