Sadly today in many places St. Francis, whose feast day it is, will be reduced to a blessing of animals. Perhaps it's because the rest of his story and message is less comfortable for us. He renounced a life of war and wealth and embraced simplicity, poverty, and care for those who were most in the margins of the society of his day.
We live in a society that is all about the individual. Some believe they have a right to accumulate as much as they can as long as they don't break the law. The sense of duty to the larger whole of society and particularly the poor is disappearing.
As one who lives in Virginia I am reminded of the original meaning of the word commonwealth. It is a term dating back to the 15th century that denotes not a focus on the individual but on the collective, the public welfare or general good of the group as a whole.
St. Francis reminds all of us who call ourselves Christians of the moral obligation that we have toward the poor, not just in Haiti or Africa, but right here in our own neighborhoods. Perhaps today's feast calls us to rise above debates of tax returns and emails, and see our brothers and sisters in need.