All marveled at the gracious words that came from His mouth. Luke 4: 22 More than twenty centuries after our Lord's memorable sermon in the synagogue of Nazareth, believers still marvel at the gracious words which come from the mouth of our Savior. We marvel too at the grateful words which sprang forth so naturally from the lips of Jesus:  I give you thanks, O Father!   Father, I thank You! When God revealed Himself in the flesh, He did so with a graciousness and gratitude which amaze and inspire.


From the graciousness and the gratitude of the Lord, we also find the flowering of His gentleness. Jesus was such a gentleman! an old priest once exclaimed. A close reading of the Gospels confirms Father's enthusiastic insight which had become for him a standard of life. Although our Lord could be firm, and even stern when needed, an abiding gentleness marked His words, actions, teaching and responses. The frightened and the little ones knew they were safe with Him. The sick and the sinful sought Him, certain that they would not be turned away. In every circumstance, the Word Incarnate verified what God had revealed of Himself to Moses and what the psalmist had celebrated for centuries: Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.... As a father is gentle with his children, so is the Lord with those who revere Him. Psalm 103


The graciousness, gratitude and gentleness of Jesus are likewise manifested in His unfailing generosity. The Gospels depict our Lord's earthly pilgrimage as an unbounded willingness to give of His time, His energy, His love, His mercy and even His very life. He emptied Himself is St. Paul's succinct description of the generosity of Jesus who, for our salvation, took the form of a slave and became obedient even to death on the Cross. Phil. 2:8


All of this was not lost on St. Francis of Assisi. Once he knew that he was called to observe the holy Gospel, the Little Poor Man was eager to sing the new song of his life in Christ in the spiritual "key of G." God's grace lifted Francis' natural courtesy and chivalry to the realm of Jesus' graciousness and gentleness. People were attracted by the gracious words of the merchant's son. They were impressed by the unfailing gentleness of him who not long before had set out to wage great wars and become a great knight.


In singing his life in the "key of G," St. Francis quickly discovered that gracious words and gentle manners freed him for generous service of God and neighbor. The future saint of Assisi, even in his father's cloth shop, had never been a man of "half measures." Touched by divine grace, a generosity like that of Jesus marked every aspect of Francis' life — his prayer, his penance, his missionary zeal, his love for his brothers, his devoted service to the poor. And because he never counted anything but his blessings, Francis quickly became a man of unceasing gratitude. He thanked God for being God; he thanked God for giving him a crust of bread to eat and a stream of water from which to drink. As Francis' life's song rose to an ever higher pitch, he even thanked God for the trials and pains that united him to Christ Crucified.


The Lord invites us also to sing a new song with our lives. Why not begin in the "key of G," and discover how graciousness and gratitude, gentleness and generosity can become a permanent hymn of praise to our God and of hope to His people?





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                           In the Key of "G"

                                                                    Part 7