Sometimes when trying to motivate a group of people to achieve a goal, the prize is to have one of the organization’s leaders “kiss a pig” if the goal is achieved.

Having once owned a potbelly pig, I have an affinity for the animals. They aren’t nearly as nasty as folks think. She was litter box trained and if I had the opportunity, I’d own one again. So, for me, kissing a pig would not be a threat.

But for others who have an aversion to swine, it’s a nasty threat. Pigs are known to be dirty animals. Who wants to kiss someone whose mouth has been places we would never dare to take our own?

What if an encounter with The Divine changed all that for you and after having your heart changed, you were not only willing, but intentionally out “kissing pigs”?

The possibility is there.

St. Francis of Assisi had such an encounter that changed his entire perspective towards a group of people that he despised. Outsiders. Outcasts. The unclean. The dirty.

Francis had an abhorrent fear of lepers . . . and he avoided them at all cost.

One day, while riding through town, he encountered a leper with his hands out, seeking assistance. Francis immediately became disgusted and quickly began to turn away. But as he turned to leave, something happened. Something changed.

Overcome with compassion, Francis went to the man and not only gave him attention or assistance but he embraced him, kissing him tenderly on the lips.

He literally put his lips on that which disgusted him the most.

This was his game-changing moment.

Now the craziest thing, after Francis got back on his horse and looked around, the man was no longer able to be seen. He eventually came to understand that it was a mystical experience . . . it was not a literal man but instead Jesus Christ whom he had kissed.

Francis wrote, “This is how God inspired me, Brother Francis, to embark upon a life of penance. When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company, and I had pity on them. When I had once become acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me became a source of physical consolation for me. After that, I did not wait long before leaving the world.”

Soon after this, Francis left his life of wealth and power, began spending time with lepers, and began his life of public ministry.

When Francis had his God moment, he moved his understanding of Christ from only a man who lived 33 years to the indwelling Spirit of every human being, including those whom he previously despised. He came to see all people as a manifestation of God and it changed everything.

Do you see all of humanity and creation as a manifestation of God?

We are all vessels for the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Not just the folks who look or act similar. Not just the folks we “understand.”

We are ALL vessels for the indwelling. Thus, there is no one to disdain, judge, or avoid.

What happens if we, like Francis, change our perspective?

Grace and Peace,