The classic traditional hymn we sing in churches around the country “How Great Thou Art” could be given a Franciscan twist and entitled “How Great TAU Art.” We are good. God is good. And we are made for greatness. Allow me to explain.
I believe in the fundamental goodness of the person. One day a teenage boy helps a tired old man mow the lawn. Another day the stranger ahead of you buys your lunch at the fast food drive-thru. Commuting to work the driver next to you slows down and allows you to cut over to the correct lane. People are fundamentally good and I believe in the fundamental goodness of the human person. And God does too.
Gen 1:31 “God looked at everything he had made and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.”
God spent six days creating all the good things of this earth, named them all good, and rested on the seventh day. We forget to name our inherent goodness declared by a loving God, yet we cannot help but uncover this same goodness that surrounds us. We detect the goodness of God in the same goodness parents feel when they cradle their newborn baby. The same goodness we feel watching a stunning sunset that stirs the sky with a myriad of colors. The same goodness when we hear the perfect blend of musical instruments, to pause our ears to savor that beautiful sound. The same goodness when we smell aromas wafting from the kitchen, flooding our senses with memories of momma and home. Goodness attracts goodness and when we are exposed to this kind of goodness, we want more. This is why we become flooded by the goodness of God and cannot ever have too much.
St. Francis had a keen sense for goodness and was often heard addressing God by these words “You are the good, all good, the highest good, Lord God living and true.” St. Francis knew about our fundamental goodness as a created being of God. Caught up in God’s goodness, we experience an overflowing goodness splashing upon us. The other day I had a holy conversation with a parishioner about their walk with God, their closeness to the Lord, and the struggle to live the virtuous life. We were both energized by the conversation, giddy with the prospect of doing more good. We both were fueled with this new vitality for living the good. Goodness is like that; it can’t remain stagnant but must move outward. The human person is made for goodness and we know this deep down in the core of who we are.
St. Francis desired so much to be a lesser brother that he adopted the TAU, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, for his signature. Instead of signing documents with his baptismal name “Giavanni Francesco Bernadone” he simple signed it with the symbol for TAU or the letter “T.” He advised his brothers to remember to seek the lesser way, the position of minoritas, and to remain humble and small.
Each of us is designed and made for greatness. Before we realize our vocation and call to greatness we must bring ourselves as little ones like lambs in need of our shepherd, like little chicks in need of the protective wings of our mother, like vulnerable humans in need of a Savior. Just as the Prince of Peace came into the world as a little vulnerable baby in swaddling clothes, so must we present ourselves to God with docility and humility.
St. Francis would tell us today that all great things have humble beginnings, and each of us is called to greatness, but first comes our humbleness to a great and supremely good God. We are good. God is good. And we are made for greatness. St. Francis would want to remind us, “How great TAU art!”