The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1255 - 509 

Learn from me . . .

The words Learn from me have two meanings, both of which can give encouragement: Take me as your model of discipleship and embrace my teaching. Both can be applied to Saint Francis, the first on account of the life he led as a result of his conversion, the second because he attained perfection. The former made him a true disciple, and the latter an excellent teacher.

Because of the life he embraced at his conversion, Saint Francis can say: Learn from me, that is, take me as your model of discipleship, for I am a true disciple. The essence of true discipleship of Jesus Christ, which was singularly realized and shone in Saint Francis, consists first of all in separating oneself from the company of evil people, as Proverbs says: A friend of fools shall become like them.This is the meaning of those words about Christ that privately to his own disciples he explained everything where "privately" signifies well removed from wicked people and away from the crowds. This shows that the disciple of Christ must keep away from evil and divisive company.

Realizing this, Saint Francis, under God's inspiration, immediately left the company of the young people who had been his comrades in sin, for it was evil company. He also stopped associating with merchants, which was worldly company, and went off alone to a secluded place, knowing that Christ explained everything to his own disciples privately. That is what anyone must do who desires to be a perfect disciple of Christ: he must withdraw from evil and worldly company. At the least one must withdraw from evil company, which the call to perfection demands, even if one has no desire to relinquish worldly company. We are told of the Israelites: They mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did. They served their idols which became a snare to them. " The nations" in this text refer to those who lead an ungodly life and "to mingle with them" means to associate with them in such a way as of necessity to copy their evil ways. The Book of Sirach tells us: Whoever touches pitch will be defiled and whoever associates with a proud man will become like him. Proverbs advises us: Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare; and the Psalmist warns us: With the perverse you will be perverted.

Second, it is essential for true discipleship to free oneself from useless cares in the affairs of life. Anyone who is anxious about useless things cannot give attention to those that are profitable. As Saint Matthew's Gospel says: the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful. Thus it is recorded by Saint Luke: Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Lk 14:33 The




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 509