Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the Word who was with God and was God in the beginning. Amen.
In the beginning, some thirteen billion years ago, the universe exploded into being from nothingness, the echo of the Big Bang still reverberating to this day. Through the æons, stars were forged in the cosmic furnaces, erupting forth as light in the darkness, burning brightly and dying in explosions, leading to the birth of new stars and planets. When life emerged on this, our home, it bore in itself the stuff of stars – as stars emerged and passed away, sewing the matter that would become this pale blue dot, so to did life rise and fall, returning dust to dust, a cycle of life and death giving way to new life. And even so, as humanity emerged, we were nurtured by this star-stuff – the air we breathe, the food we eat, the blood that pumps in our veins was forged in the same cosmic furnace as the stars. As physicist Neil DeGrasse-Tyson put it, “We are in the universe, and the universe is in us.”
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord, through whom all things were made. Amen.
Saint Francis was born to into a wealthy merchant’s family in the Umbrian region of what is today Italy. In his youth, he was known for lavish spending, but after a very public falling out with his father, Francis renounced his family name and his inheritance for a life of poverty.
In 1209, Francis founded the Order of the Friars Minor, a group of wandering preachers known for their devotion to poverty and the poor that continues his ministry across the world today. This group of men and women became fools for Christ, living lives of radical reliance on the alms of stranger and deep trust that God would provide. And yeah, at times their actions seemed incredibly foolish. Not only did Francis give up a fortune, he was also known for his preaching – to people, to birds, to a wolf. That’s why we remember him by blessing animals – Francis taught about the interdependence of all creation.