Life In Abundance
In their years of study every friar-preacher you hear from on Sunday here at the Mission at one time or another fell under the exuberant sway of a Franciscan theologian named Francis Baur. A great friend and colleague of our own Father Kenan Osborne at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Francis taught theology as preparation for ministry. In his classroom, which he filled with flair and dramatic gesture, Francis never wanted us, his students, to lose sight of those to whom theology most needed to be vocalized: the person in the pew, or, in his memorable phrase, “the ordinary gum-chewing Catholic.” (It should come as no surprise that in their own years of study, both Kenan and Francis were students of Father Virgil Cordano.)
In 1983, Paulist Press published “Life in Abundance,” Francis’s summary expression of the Gospel vision that guided his life. The last verse of this Sunday’s Gospel likely inspired the entire wonder-filled package of his life and masterwork. Here’s an excerpt:
“If God’s will is life in abundance, then the goal of our human life is the very fullness and abundance of life which is a participation in love. The strengths of this position are twofold: a strong affirmation of this present life and this world, and the consequent demand for full participation in this life and in this world…We have not been placed in this world and in these bodies in order that we may work our way out; we have been placed in this world and in these bodies because this is where God dwells…” (p. 254)
There’s the voice of a theological shepherd. Today, facing the fragility of “this present life” and with my usual avenues of “participation” cut off, I hear a voice of encouragement and a call to creative action.
Fr. Dan ofm, Pastor