The wolf was facing a slow death. Too old to hunt, pushed out of the pack, he settled for sheep. Later, he settled for children and old folk, alone in the streets of Gubbio. How frightened and desperate he was?
Francis was summoned and asked to deal with this terrorist from beyond the city walls. He took courage in order to face the wolf, outside the City, in the forest. As the wolf approached, he saw and understood what was driving the animal. Hunger, fear and the simple need to survive. A blind panic that forced him to such terrible evil.
And Francis was afraid! He wrestled with his own dark energy and understood that if he was to survive this encounter, he must find a bigger, more positive energy. And there it was, arising deep in his strangled gut, like a spring of everlasting life. Compassion flooded his being.
His terror fled before it and was replaced by a great peace. Along with a desire to save the wolf. Do people recognise this upsurge of God’s love in another’s heart? The wolf certainly did, as like the woman at the well, he was filled with this flood of love and instead of attacking this ragged little man, he merely held out his paw, to be grasped and quickly blessed.
A deal was done and. The people, infected by Francis’ beaming smile, were more than happy to feed the wolf, in return for his protection of their sheep.
Now we look out at world threatened by Corona virus. Should we act out of fear and desperation? Or can we draw from the well of compassion within us all, to discern the golden opportunity it offers us? To learn such a great lesson?
800 years later in Assisi, the newspapers were full of the name, ‘Il Lupo’ (the wolf), the terrorist, Bin Laden. No one chose to heal, that wolf. Today, we stare out a vicious virus, that the human eye cannot see. What will we do, in our own hour of need?
With grateful credit to Bernard Joy Franciscan Community of Our Lady of Compassion