Walking the World as the Pardon of God – Brian Zahnd
G.K. Chesterton suggested that Saint Francis walked the world like the pardon of God. It’s an apt summary of the saint’s life. Francis embodied the grace of God as he walked the hills of Umbria barefoot in his patched brown habit and simple rope belt, preaching to birds and bishops. His life was a kind of performance art protest against the pervasive sins of thirteenth-century Italy — pride, avarice, corruption, and violence. Yet sinners themselves were drawn to Francis. How else do we explain why, in his lifetime, forty thousand people joined his rigorous order of radical Christianity emphasizing poverty, simplicity and humility? Like Jesus, Francis could uncompromisingly denounce systemic sin, while extending genuine compassion to the people caught in its pernicious web. To be a prophetic witness against systems of sin and a preacher of God’s pardon for sinners at the same time is the peculiar grace at which Francis excelled and to which the church is called.