Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household.” 

Like the disciples in the Scripture, Francis and his followers wandered the countryside carrying the good news of Jesus.   And like the disciples, they often did it by bringing peace and reconciliation into places of conflict.

One story in particular reveals Francis’ gift for peacemaking.   In the last year of his life, the mayor of Assisi and the town’s bishop had fallen into a feud.   To intervene, Francis composed a new verse of his poem “Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon”:   “All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon for love of you. . . . Happy those who endure in peace; by you Most High, they will be crowned.”

Francis sent two friars to sing this verse before the mayor and the bishop.   Touched to the heart, the mayor said, “I forgive the lord bishop, whom I ought to recognize as my master.”   And the bishop replied, “My office demands humility of me, but by nature I am quick to anger; you must forgive me!”

Francis understood that Jesus came to reconcile us, not only with God, but with each other as well.   On a personal level, unforgiveness can destroy families and friendships—even our health and peace of mind.   On a broader level, it can lead to war, conflict, and destruction.   But Jesus came to preach peace by putting to death all enmity through his cross, and he wants us to try to “preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

Is there someone you need to forgive?   Try to let go of your resentment.   Even if it means just taking one more step, go ahead and take that step. It couldn’t have been easy for Assisi’s bishop and mayor to forgive each other, but they found the grace to try.   It’s not easy for us either, but the same grace is available to us.   If you just can’t forgive right now, ask God for the grace to want to forgive.   Even if you feel no love for the other person, consider how much God loves them.   Even if it takes a long time, he can bring you to peace.

Word Among Us