Here are Jesus' words to the apostles before he ascends into heaven according to the gospel of Mark:
"Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature..."
This line has always struck me as relevant.
Shortly following this line in Jesus instructs the apostles the importance of baptism, "whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned..."
But on today's feast of St. Francis lets just focus on the first part. Go and proclaim the gospel to every creature...
Today around the world, mostly in Catholic Churches, men, women, children will gather with their animals, their pets, for a blessing of the animals.
In large part this is done to honor Francis who evangelized the world that animals and humans have common ground, we are both creatures of our God and King. We recognize our commonality. Our animals are truly our brothers and sisters, since we all come from the same Father above.
It is form nothing we come forth. It is form God's love we have been given life and are sustained in life.
We recognize that common bond that Francis taught through out his life.
We are i some sense we discover our duty to proclaim the gospel to every creature. Just has animals, in particular our pets, proclaim the good news of God's purpose and love through their existence, we too must return the favor.
Our existence must also proclaim that purpose and love to all creatures. By our stewardship and care toward all creatures, especially our pets, we embrace God's command for us to have dominion over the animals and plants. We discover our innate right and duty of being God's love for all creation.
The blessings of the pets is meant to remind us of our original purpose as we discover in the garden of Eden, "to serve and protect" creation and creatures alike. Jesus command to proclaim the gospel to all creatures is an invitation to rediscover our original purpose and unite it to the Salvific plan of Redemption.
Our life now proclaims the gospel and all of creation is effected by the goodness we have received at the hands and heart of Christ who gives is life for creation.
May today on the feast of St. Francis, we rediscover our original purpose and unite it to the grace of redemption and as we care for animals may we experience and remember God's care for us.