The call to be a Franciscan begins with the call to follow and to be in relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is a call to the Gospel way of life, or a way of living the Gospel that makes Jesus Christ a living presence in the world. Francis deepest desire was to follow in the footprints of Jesus. This enabled Francis to experience God in a new and powerful way as he began to see Christ in everyone around him and in all of creation about him.
According to Bonaventure, Francis "clothed himself with a spirit of poverty, a sense of humility and eagerness for intimate piety." (LMJ, 1.6). As Francis' faith deepens in relationship with Christ, the deeper his relationships with others began. Eventually, Francis saw himself as brother to the other and identifies and accepts the other as brother and/or sister. Once the leper was repulsive to Francis, now with this new and deeper awareness, he embraces the leper with great compassion and love.
Francis focused not on the humanity of Jesus in his writings but rather, he focused on the humility of God as shown in the Incarnation. This humility of God, the act of God coming down into humanity in Christ, is the heart of the Franciscan Evangelical life.
As Franciscans we are called to a life of ongoing conversion. We recognize that we are related to one another because we are integrally related to Christ. Francis sees everything around him as brother and sister because he sees God in all things. God's goodness is present in everyone, everything, and everywhere. Sin is a failure to live the Gospel and a refusal to respond to the call to live in right relationship with other persons and all of creation. As Franciscans we are called daily to turn towards being in a "right relationship" with God, ourselves, with others, and all of creation.
"Franciscan evangelical life means bearing witness to the living Christ, the Christ that includes all peoples, all cultures, all religions, and the entire earth. We are to bear witness to God concealed in ordinary reality, to make Christ alive through a spirit of selfless, compassionate love." (Illia Delio, Evangelical Life Today: Living In The Ecological Christ, Washington Theological Union, Franciscan Studies 64, 2006. p. 501).
Francis believed that the world was his cloister, the place in which he could find God. As followers of this humble man, we too, believe that the world is our cloister. The people, the ministries we are involved in, the natural world are all reflections of the goodness and love of God.