The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Dante Salces-Barril, SVD (Rome)
Monday 27th Week in Ordinary Time
Image source: Wikimedia Commons, Manuscript Leaf with Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi
“Just do It” would immediately be associated with shoes and basketball. But long before there were shoes or basketballs, a Galilean was already essentially “advertising” this “motto” in deserts, on dusty roads and everywhere he went, shouting it out to people who had “ears to hear.”
And this is precisely what we read in the Gospel. A scholar of the Law, approached the Galilean, looking for some good old “debate.” Twice, the eager scholar asked and twice was outmaneuvered and made to answer his own questions reluctantly. And worse, at least for him, he was commanded, as if by a drill commander, not just once but twice to “do likewise,” with the second one even prefaced by a terse and dismissive “Go…”.
Indeed, this Gospel episode is “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1,14)” expressed in a story. Scripture emphasizes how God’s Word is more powerful than anything we can imagine. And yet the Word had to become flesh!
St. Francis, our saint for today, is a translation of the biblical passage cited above. He is said to be armed with “a ready wit, sang merrily, delighted in fine clothes and showy display. Handsome, gallant, and courteous…” (New Advent). He was so good that he could even preach to animals! Yet he is known the world over not so much for what he said but for what he did. Francis didn’t just say it; he did it!
The scholar in the Gospel was told to “go and do likewise.” At mass, all of us are also told to “Go.” This “eucharistic go” is not dismissive but “commissive.” It is not “go away;” but “go, you are sent,” sent like St. Francis and all holy men and women to “just do it!”