To Be Understood or to Understand



In the second half of the famous “Prayer of St. Francis,” there is a litany of faith statements that transition from negative to positive.

The full prayer is below.

This morning, in considering the times we live in, especially all of the division in beliefs and in actions, I found myself reflecting on this specific line from this important prayer:

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek ….to be understood as to understand.

There is a distinction here that cuts to the core of how we see the world and others in it.

Do we seek to understand the trials, joys, and perspectives of others, especially those we initially disagree with or do not understand?

Do we seek to  seek to understand how their heart ticks and how their soul flourishes?

Do we seek God in their way of living this one, precious life?


Do we expect others to understand us, including  our trials, joys, and perspectives.

Do we expect others to understand what moves us, inspires us?

Do we expect others to understand our description of God, and how we live as the only way, the right way?

The beginning of this prayer begins with a request: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.”

If we seek to be people of peace, to reflect God’s love into this tumultuous world, we must  first understand,  seeking others with empathy and compassion.

It isn’t about being right, and having others see the world they way we understand it.

Rather, this live invites us to seek understanding in others so we can better bring peace into our world, learn a little more along the way, and best reflect the love of God.


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