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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by William A. Kolb

Monday, October 4

And they said to Jesus, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" He replied, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." And they said, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?" He replied, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."
—Matthew 25:37-40; 44-45

On this day, we observe the Feast Day of St. Francis. This is also the day we bless animals in St. Francis's name.

Against the powerful wishes of a wealthy father, Franics of Assisi answered the call to serve God directly and publicly and to use his gifts in the ministry of the institutional Church. While Francis is known and revered for his love of animals, his ministry was more deeply characterized by a complete identification with the poor and with the suffering and poverty of Christ. Few if any Christian figures have done so as completely as did Francis.

It is interesting to note that there is a close connection between the poor and animals: they are both quite powerless when compared to worldly control and influence. Obviously, Francis was drawn to help those who could not help themselves.

Francis  provided great hospitality for animals, birds and other wildlife wherever he lived. His love for them reminds us that our pets nurture us with the closest thing to unconditional love we are likely to experience in this life.

Lord, give me the courage to follow you and the compassion to love the poor and the powerless. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.