The commemoration of the feast of St Francis of Assisi at Tasek Chapel evolved into a vibrant celebration of renewal, reflection, and mission.
This year held exceptional significance as the chapel celebrated her silver jubilee on October 10.
The Chapel of St Francis of Assisi was inaugurated on October 10, 1998, by the then Bishop Antony Selvanayagam.
The triduum, presided over by Fr John Anandan OFM Cap with Deacon Sandanasamy Peter assisting, delved into themes of Communion, Participation, and Mission. This journey culminated on Oct 8, with a grand feast led by Fr John, Fr Robert Daniel, and newly ordained Deacon George Vaithynathan.
Fr John’s thought-provoking homilies echoed the spirit of St Francis, prompting deep reflection among attendees.
Communion is a call to renewal. St Francis of Assisi was fervently devoted to Jesus, and his spiritual renewal was exemplified by his simplicity and renunciation of worldly attachments. Throughout his earthly journey he continually stripped away worldly desires to align himself with God's will. St Francis had a profound love for God’s creation, seeing God's hand in all things. He referred to creatures like birds and the sun as his brothers. A humorous anecdote shared by Fr John illustrated this point: a baby pigeon flew by a church, then a temple, and finally rested at a mosque. It returned to its mother, reflecting, "We are pigeons when we enter the church, pigeons when we eat at the temple, and pigeons when we rest in the mosque. Why do humans fight among themselves even though they are the same?” The mother pigeon’s response encapsulated St Francis’ message: “That’s why we are up here, and they are down there.”
Participation. The essential question is to discern what God wants from us. This involves the act of listening, and St Francis found solace in quiet meditation and prayer, distancing himself from worldly distractions. In answer to his prayers, God’s message was, “Please restore my Church.” Initially, St Francis interpreted this as a call to repair the physical church building, but he soon realised God’s true intent was for him to build a community of believers. We are encouraged to follow St Francis’ example, first by listening to God's calling and second by participating actively in carrying out God’s mission. Through participation, we embark on the journey of understanding and fulfilling our mission.
Mission. The Church’s existence is intrinsically tied to its mission of spreading God’s kingdom through service. A powerful quote by Fr John alluded to a challenge by Gandhi: “I love Jesus but not the Jesus portrayed by Christians.” This statement challenges us to examine whether our behaviour reflects the essence of God’s mercy and love as embodied by Jesus and exemplified by our model, St Francis. Are we truly living out our faith, or do we, for instance, succumb to road rage and unkind words? The message is clear: we cannot give love or be merciful if we do not possess these qualities. Our mission is to portray Jesus to the world, and we must live out our faith, rather than merely professing it. As St Francis wisely said, [Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”
The reading for the feast day was taken from Isaiah 5:1-7, in which God laments the unfruitfulness of His vineyard. He had done everything to nurture it, but it produced sour grapes. St Francis recognised this analogy in his life, rejecting anything that did not bear good fruit. Fr John explained that we are all engaged in a battle with our egos, a struggle between “Theo’s Drama” (God's plan) and “Ego Drama” (self-centred desires). Like St Francis, we must acknowledge that we are actors in God's divine plan, with God as the writer and director of our lives. We must reflect on what God desires rather than what our egos crave, which often centres on self. We are the actors, not the characters in this grand story.
In closing, the community expressed great happiness in being able to open its gates for the feast day celebration, especially given the challenges of the recent pandemic. We hope that you have been inspired to take action and embrace the spirit of St Francis during this transformative triduum
*Originally posted in: https://www.heraldmalaysia.com/news/silver-jubilee-feast-day-celebration-at-tasek-chapel/73476/1