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"Graced by God"
Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013

Biographies of St. Francis tell us that when he was born, his mother named him Giovanni, in honor of John the Baptist. His father, returning from a business trip to France, insisted that his name be changed to Francesco. This was something of an honorific, reflecting the high esteem in which the Italian fabric merchant held the French markets for silk and brocade. On this feast of the birth of John the Baptist, we hear another story of naming, that of Elizabeth and Zechariah insisting that their son was to be called John (in Hebrew Yohanan, “graced by God”). Francis’s early life reflected the fashionable and wealthy society to which his father aspired. But his later life was far closer to the desert prophet his mother favored as a model for his life. Today Francis’s name has become synonymous with his dedication to a gospel life of poverty and compassion, care for the poor, and love for all creation. Our faith reminds us that who we are and what we are called is ultimately far less important than what we do with our lives in the service of the kingdom of God.

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