The hallmark of Saint Clare’s sanctity was her complete devotion to the naked poverty of Christ Crucified, which inspired her to embrace a life of penance, expressed through near absolute poverty. In this she was as radical as her mentor Saint Francis. Poverty and penance, along with devotion to Christ’s Passion, is what distinguishes the Franciscan charism from all other schools of spirituality. God calls us all to follow him, each in our own unique way. No matter where we come from, or what our spiritual tradition, what unites us is our celebration of the Mass together.
We have a saying that actions speak louder than words. And more often than not this statement is correct. Words are cheap, but actions require sincerity.
The Israelites were called time and time again to respond to God in worship and love. God didn’t merely tell the people of his affection for them; he demonstrated that affection by means of all the wonderful things he accomplished for them.
What is true of the Old Testament era is also true of the New. In today’s Gospel, Our Lord gives us a formula of Christian living: the taking up of the Cross and following him. And these are not hollow words; they are backed up by his actions. Our Lord not only took up the Cross; he died on it. That was the greatest act of love the world has ever seen.
When we meditate upon this we should be willing, even eager, to respond in kind. We should be happy to put aside our own plans and our own agendas and choose what is good for the majority. Selfishness and pride have no place in Christian discipleship, and they are the root of all sin and failure in Christ’s followers. When we consider what God has done for us, can we ever think that the price of discipleship is too high, or that it’s too much for us to accept the Cross we carry on our own shoulders?
Saint Paul tells us that love calls out for love, not a love expressed only in cheap words, but in precious actions. The measure of our love is found in how willing we are to accept whatever trials or frustrations come our way. We all want our words to be sincere, but there will be no doubt about sincerity if our actions are generous.