The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1255 - 519 

that even wild animals came running to him as their friend and companion. And so what is said of Moses in the Book of Numbers, may well be sung in praise of him: The man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth. Like another Moses, Saint Francis can say: Learn from me for I am meek of heart.

He can also say to us: Learn from me for I am humble of heart. Learn, that is, to have true, not counterfeit, humility as hypocrites cunningly humble themselves. Of these Sirach says: There is one who humbles himself wickedly and inwardly he is full of deceit, and Saint Paul writes to the Colossians: Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind. He is not encouraging us to that sort of humility, but to humility of heart on which Saint Bernard writes: "The truly humble man wants to be considered despicable rather than to be proclaimed a humble man."a

Saint Francis possessed this humility supremely. He loved and sought it, from the origin of his religious life until his death. Wis 8:2 For this he left the world, ordered that he be dragged naked through a city, ministered to lepers, told his own sins while preaching and even commanded others to pour scorn on him. We ought to learn this virtue especially from him.

That we may desire it let us look at the fruits which make it so attractive, the manner in which it is acquired and the means by which it is maintained.

The fruits of humility are manifold. First, it calms the anger of God, while moving him to suspend judgment due to guilt. This is well exemplified in the Book of Kings where the Lord says to Elijah: Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days. What extraordinary power humility has, that it can contain the hand of God! The Psalmist tells us: The Lord is the keeper of little ones: I was humbled, and he delivered me, and Saint James says: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. He protects and guards them. The haughty he knows from afar, but the lowly he does not cease to regard from near at hand, nor can he despise them, as the Psalmist says: The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, you will not despise.

The second fruit of humility is that it finds grace. Just as anyone looking for water must dig down into the earth, so anyone longing to




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 519