Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Turning and Twirling

Lord, your ways are not our ways.  Give us a chance to follow you with childlike innocence, learning to find providence in all things.  Amen.

Francis makes Friar Masseo turn round

One day, St Francis was travelling with Brother Masseo.  When they reached a three-way crossroads, by which they could go to Florence, Siena or Arezzo, Brother Masseo said, “Father, which road should we take?”  Francis answered, “The one that God wills.”  Brother Masseo asked, “But how will we know which one God wills?” 

St Francis commanded him, “Masseo – where you stand, twirl around and around as children do, and do not stop turning until I tell you to do so.”  Brother Masseo began twirling and twirling, falling many times due the dizziness he felt but each time he stood up and resumed his turning. 

Eventually, Francis called out, “Stop!  Which way are you facing?”  Masseo groggily replied, “Siena.”  St Francis picked up his staff, “Then that is the way God wills.”  Brother Masseo was amazed at what Francis made him do in front of the lay people passing by but said nothing out of reverence.

As St Francis and Brother Masseo neared Siena, the people of the city came out to meet him.  They carried them to the Bishop’s palace.  Along the way, Francis heard that there was much discord in the city and that two men had died in the violence.  Preaching of peace, he restored the senses of the townsfolk and returned them to wholeness. 

Staying with the Bishop, Francis received his hospitality gracefully but woke early in the morning and left with Brother Masseo without the Bishop’s knowledge.   On the road, Masseo thought, “Who is this man who makes me act like a child and then rudely leaves the Bishop without a word of thanks?”  Masseo thought Francis had acted without discernment. 

Friar Masseo

A voice came to Masseo, “You are proud – you judge the works of God and have indiscreet pride.  Brother Francis has acted as no angel could, suing for peace and listening to my call.  If he were to command you to throw stones, you should obey.  He has avoided much more bloodshed but you are too stupid and vain to see what comes from the will of God.”  

Detecting his silence, Francis said to Masseo, “Hold on to these thoughts, Brother, because they are good and inspired by God.  You have been vain but you now know the demons that can implant the mind.”  

Brother Masseo realised that Francis knew the secrets of his heart.

Lord, we can become impatient with your call to us, its indecipherable nature and its vagueness.  Let us rise to your challenge to a live a new tomorrow and come once again to the source of life.  Amen.

Illustrations by Eugene Burnand  (1850 – 1921)

For more of his beautiful art:



The Disciples Peter and John running to the sepulchre on the morning of the Resurrection 




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