St. Francis of Assisi was wont to pray for nights on end, “Who are you, God, and who am I?” He was unable to find satisfying answers to these questions in the culture and institutions of his times.
One Sunday he was listening to a sermon in which the preacher quoted Jesus telling his followers to take nothing for their journey, to rely upon the kindness of strangers – in short, to embrace poverty as a spiritual way. Francis was galvanized. He left Mass overjoyed and committed the passages to memory, saying: “This is what I want. This is what I long for.”
Francis had noticed that whenever and wherever he encountered poverty and simplicity in his life, then his heart would warmly glow, his insides would light up with smiles. The scripture passage validated this important inner experience. His enthusiasm enkindled and his creative energies given direction, he went on to create a band of brothers who lived simply and in solidarity with the poor.