The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1255 - 517 

The Evening Sermon on Saint Francis
Preached at Paris, October 4, 1255

Learn from me, that is, be meek and humble after my example. A person is meek by loving his brothers, humble by loving lowliness or "minority." To be meek is to be a brother to everybody; to be humble is to be less than everybody. Therefore, to be meek and humble of heart is to be a true lesser brother. Saint Francis can say to us: Learn from me to be meek and humble, that is, to be Lesser Brothers.a Although it is not for everyone to take the habit and profess the Rule of the Lesser Brothers, it is necessary for everyone who wants to be saved to be a lesser brother in the sense of being meek and humble. As the Lord himself teaches: Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

As the easier of the two, he mentions meekness first. While it is no effort for a soul that is well-disposed, it is nevertheless both necessary and profitable to the spiritual life: to the pursuit of truth for beginners, in the practice of virtue for the advanced, to make right judgments by those in authority, and to attain eternal life by those tending toward it. Meekness, in fact, pertains to every form and state of life.

First, then, meekness is necessary to the pursuit of truth both in those learning and those who teach. Those learning have to be meek in order to grasp the truth, as Sirach says: Be meek to hear the word, that you may understand. As an image is reflected only in peaceful waters, so the word of doctrine is received only by meek minds. Also those who teach have to be meek because "anger hinders the mind from perceiving the truth."b As the Gloss on Matthew 5:4 explains: "He is meek whom neither anger nor spitefulness, harshness nor bitterness, disturbs."c Saint Paul writes to Timothy: The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. How much more gently ought he to listen to those who are seeking the truth.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 517