The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1255 - 521 

third time, I would still answer: humility."a When one of the holy fathers was asked "What is human perfection?" he replied: "Humility."b And the Lord himself, when asked by the disciples to increase in them the grace of faith, answered: "When you have done all that is commanded you, say ‘We are unworthy servants, we have only done what was our duty.'" Lk 17:10

The fourth fruit of humility is that it leads to eternal glory, its last and perfect fruit. Job says of this: He who has been humbled shall be in glory: and he who shall bow down his eyes, he shall be saved. That is to say, through humility every evil is avoided and all good is obtained. How right it is when the text says he shall be in glory, for by fair recompense the more humble one is here, the higher and more sublime will be one's place in glory. The more lowly and humble a person is on earth, the closer is he to Christ who sits in the lowest place. Lk 14:19 And the closer one is to Christ in this world, the closer must one be to him in heaven. It is manifest that Christ is raised above all others, and it is therefore entirely proper that his servant be honored among all others, for where Christ is, there shall his servant be also. The more a person cultivates lowliness, the less is he tainted with vainglory. Therefore, as he received no reward whatever in this world, how much greater and more splendid must he appear in that true glory of heaven on which alone his heart is set and to which he is pledged unconditionally!

We should embrace humility with our whole heart in order to obtain these four fruits. Though outwardly humility seems like a useless, hard old shell, inside it holds a precious kernel. And further, as the farmer sows corn seed in the ground and leaves it there to die while he waits for it to bear fruit, so ought we cheerfully to long to be despised. Saint James writes: Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation.

Second, let us look at how this noble virtue is acquired. There are four pathways that lead to it. The first is meditation on God. This is a road leading directly to humility for anyone who duly attends to God. We must meditate on God as the author of every good and the one who rewards us according to our deeds. As the author of all good we are obliged to call out to him: O Lord you have wrought for us all our works, and so to ascribe every good to him and nothing to ourselves. And that makes us humble. The First Letter of Saint Peter advises us: Humble yourselves under the mighty hands of God, 1 Pt 5:6 and we should keep in mind that it is not by our power or the might of our hands that we have achieved the good that is ours, but it is the Lord that made us and Ps 100:3 [Vulgate, Ps 99:3]




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 521