LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Chapter 25
HOW ST FRANCIS HEALED MIRACULOUSLY A LEPER BOTH IN HIS BODY AND IN HIS SOUL, AND WHAT THE SOUL SAID TO HIM ON GOING UP TO HEAVEN
While reading this chapter, I remembered the story of Jesus and his diciples, when they came upon a man born blind and the disciples asked Jesus whether the man was born blind for his sins or those of his parents. Jesus answer then was neither, but to show the glory of God. That gospel story hints at the common way of thinking then and now, that our diseases and other troubles are given because of sin. The Bible story shows that it isn't always the case, but it was the case in this Little Flowers story. There has been much written about the relations between our health, wealth, and happiness ond our mental attitude. Some of it is excellent advice on sound scriptural principles. But some thoughts on this subject shade off into the magical idea that our attitude controls the physical world. I'm always impressed by people whose attitudes seem unaffected by their circumstances. In the good sense, this is the virtue of apatheia, indifference or dispassion. I've seen people cheerful in appallingly bad circumstances, and I've heard the cynical statement about them, "there's something wrong with a person that's happy all the time." More amazing are the people who, as seen from the outside by the rest of the world, seem to have nothing to complain about but are unhappy.
In this chapter, I found it very moving that the leper began to weep for his sins as he noticed that he was being cured of his disease. The connections between our inner feelings and the outer world are strong, but not always predictable. The cause and effect relationshps are complex and we often don't know all the factors involved. This shades off into psychiatry and psychology.
There is food for thought in how this chapter ends, too. I remember the story of seven lepers being healed, and only came back to thank Jesus. In this story, the leper appears to Brother Francis in a vision and says the angels and saints in heaven thank God for Brother Francis' work.