A Sermon on the Feast of the Transferal of the Body, 1267 - 738 

related purpose to edify our neighbor. No man of himself can intend or achieve these purposes, but only with the help of God. So here at the beginning ask the Lord to grant me the grace to be able to say something to his praise, in commendation of Saint Francis, and for our edification. Let each one say an Our Father and a Hail Mary.


I began with the text: Friend, go up higher. These are Christ's words inviting to the wedding feast those guests found to be humble whom the Lord exalts and desires to exalt. Immediately before these words, the Lord advises: When you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place. Saint Francis, having been invited to Christ's wedding feast, sat in the lowest place. That is to say, he clothed himself in a shabby habit and he founded the Order of Lesser Brothers. He did not qualify the word "Lesser" in any way, but simply and unconditionally called his Order the Order of Lesser Brothers. The Lord said to the humble guest, the one who had taken a lower place, Friend, go up higher. Notice the Lord calls the humble his friends, and this text may be taken as addressed to the holy confessor Francis who so humbled himself that he wanted to be a lesser brother and sit in the lowest place. To this man who made himself humble and lowly for Christ's sake, the Lord says: Friend, go up higher, raising, as it were, the poor from the dust.

The wisdom of God draws the mind to three noteworthy features in this text, which correspond to its three component parts. First, it indicates the presence of grace by the idea of friendship, and so the text says: Friend. Second, it signifies "glory" by the spatial adverb higher. And third, it symbolizes "pass over from grace to glory" by the verb go up. Therefore, in saying Friend it means: because you are endowed with grace go up higher, that is, come to heavenly glory.

Grace, then, is rightly symbolized by the first word Friend. The word refers to the power of grace and eternal wisdom in devout souls, which has been bestowed on many saints for generation after generation. In these latter times grace was given to this holy man, making him a model of repentance to us all.

Jesus calls Saint Francis his friend for a number of special reasons. First, due to his truly humble spirit in all that was committed to him, he was a faithful friend of the Lord. Second, because of his utter purity of heart in everything he pledged himself to do, he was a congenial friend of the Lord. Third, on account of the serenity of his contemplative soul, he was an intimate friend of the Lord. And fourth, because the marks of Christ's cross were imprinted on his body, he became, as Christ's friend, conformed to his likeness. The word




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 738