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Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrating St. Juniper: A Facebook Share

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Special thanks to Shane Claiborne for his recent fascinating Facebook post, as follows:

Brother Juniper is one of the Church's wildest and wackiest, and most marvelous saints. We remember him today in Common Prayer.

A companion of St. Francis of Assisi, Brother Juniper is often called "God's jester". There are all sorts of wild stories of his antics. He was notorious for constantly giving his possessions away, and living with a winsomeness that sometimes got him into trouble. At one point, he was ordered by a superior not to give away his outer garment to the beggars anymore. But it wasn’t long until he met someone in need who asked him for some clothing. He replied, “My superior has told me under obedience not to give my clothing to anyone. But if you pull it off my back, I certainly will not prevent you.”

Here's one more of my favorite lesser-known Juniper stories. On one occasion, Brother Juniper was left in charge of the cathedral by the caretaker. (Not sure what he was thinking.) Some beggars came to the door asking for food and money. Juniper had little to offer, but he mentioned that there were some silver bells in the cathedral they could have, since it was God’s house. So he helped them with that. When his superior, the bishop, got word of this, he scolded Brother Juniper. Legend has it he yelled so loudly that he lost his voice. Brother Juniper, feeling remorse for having angered him so badly, made some porridge that night to take to the bishop. He carefully carried it by the light of a candle to the bishop’s house. When his superior answered the door, he was irate, having been awakened from his slumber. He wanted nothing to do with Juniper’s gift. So Juniper, with the innocence of a child, asked the bishop if he would mind holding the candle so Juniper could eat the porridge before it got cold. At this point, the bishop was so taken aback, he fell apart with laughter at the absurdity of this simpleton. He held the candle, and they finished the porridge together.

At one point Francis is said to have joked about how he wished for a forest of Junipers.

There was also a great quote in morning prayer (www.commonprayer.net) -- from John Chrysostom:

'Tell me then, how is it that you are rich? From whom did you receive it, and from whom did he transmit it to you? From his father and his grandfather. But can you, ascending through many generations, show the acquisition just? It cannot be. The root and origin of it must have been injustice. Why? Because God in the beginning did not make one person rich and another poor. He left the earth free to all alike. Why then if it is common, have you so many acres of land, while your neighbor has not a portion of it?'


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