Korean Secular Franciscans lead the
singing during Mass.
ABOVE: Fr. Francis Kim, OFM, tells a tale
of beauty and the beast.
BELOW: A Korean percussionist provides
a beat for the singing during mass.
By BOB and MARY STRONACH, SFO
PITTSBURGH, PA, July 4, 2007 On the birthday of this nation of Native Americans and immigrants, a Mass featuring Korean song and culture capped an afternoon of small group sessions exploring sensitivity to cultural diversity at the Secular Franciscan Order’s 17th Quinquennial Congress, held at the Radisson Hotel Pittsburgh Green Tree.
In his homily, Fr. Francis Kim, OFM, related the tale of a prince who lived in a beautiful castle, and whose compassion was tested one winter evening by an old woman who knocked at the door and begged for shelter from the cold lest she die.
“ ‘Get out!’ shouted the prince.” For that, the old woman placed a curse on the prince, turning him into a beast; and saying the curse would only be lifted if someone fell in love with the beast. With tears in his eyes, the prince wailed, “Who could ever love a beast?”
It sounds like a story of beauty and the beast, Father Kim said, adding: “We Franciscans have a similar love story St. Francis and the leper. It is better, because St. Francis passed the test,” and, in doing so, he gave a heritage to his followers through embracing the outcast.
In the day’s gospel reading, “Jesus drives out demons,” he noted. “Demons of our world are called hatred… violence… oppression… hunger… Make you own list.”
Suggesting that everyone is part of such a demon, he said the good news is that “we are transformed” by the unconditional love of Christ and St. Francis. “Who could ever love a beast? Jesus. That is who transformed our father Francis from a demon to a saint.”
Looking out at the 430 attendees, he added: “It is a joy to see irrepressible people who look beyond appearance” and who work together to transform a world that can be ugly.