A Sermon on the Feast of the Transferal of the Body, 1267 - 744 

Dear brothers, God could truly call Saint Francis his friend and so he said to him: Friend, go up higher. What we have said so far provides the first reason why he was named God's friend.


Second, the text adds: go up higher. He addresses Saint Francis in these words as if to say to him on the feast of the Ascension,a "Go up with my help by calling on me in prayer. Go up after me, by following my example in your life. Go up to God's presence by contemplating the divine splendor. Go up because of me whom you shall see at last in glory."

The Lord says to him: Go up with my help, for I am the ladder on which you can ascend. This is signified by the ladder which Jacob saw: set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. What is this ladder other than our Lord Jesus himself, the Son of God who through his humanity is set up on earth and by his divinity transcends the heavens? The flesh of Christ, though transformed, remains in union with our earth, and his divinity unites him to the Father who is in heaven. On that ladder, Genesis tells us,the angels of God were ascending and descending. They were descending to the humanity of Christ who came in the flesh for us; and, sighing after divine wisdom, they were ascending to heaven. So the Lord says: Go up with my help. How is this achieved? By calling on God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. In that way you ought to ascend so that it may be said of you what is said of the devout soul in The Song of Solomon: Who is this that is going up from the desert, like a column of smoke, breathing of myrrh and frankincense, and every perfume the merchant knows? Sg 3:6 The desert signifies penance; myrrh, which is bitter, the hardship of sorrow and tears; frankincense, devotion to God; and the perfumes, the spectrum of the virtues. Saint Francis followed Christ by praying constantly and by shedding tears for his sins. He was always at prayer, and he wept so much that he lost his sight. He told those who asked him why he wept so much, as many rebuked him for it: "I do not consider my own sight more precious than the light the angels see."

Then the Lord says to him: Go up after me by following my example perfectly in your life. We read in the Book of Samuel: Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet and his armor-bearer after him. Jonathan may be taken here as a figure of Christ who was crucified through his hands and feet, and the armor bearer as Saint Francis, filled with the Holy Spirit, who carried the arms of Christ, namely,




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 744