The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1267 - 750 

this, he founded three religious Orders: the first, the Order of Friars Minor; the second, the Order of Sisters of Saint Clare. Earlier these had been called the Poor Ladies of Saints Cosmas and Damian, but now, with Saint Clare having been canonized, they are called the Sisters of Saint Clare. The third is called the Order of Penitents, known as the Penitent Brethren. These Orders may be understood as his three "daughters," and they were founded for the purpose of honoring God. We see, then, that Saint Francis revered God and was his humble servant. With the Psalmist he could say: O Lord I am your servant, I am your servant, the son of your handmaid. Ps 116:16 [Vulgate, Ps 115:16] We should follow the example of Saint Francis and serve God with reverence.

Scripture admonishes us that we should fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Mt 10:28 We ought to revere God and submit ourselves to His will. Otherwise, He will reproach us, saying: If I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am the Lord, where is my fear? And likewise those words from Job: I called my servant, and he gave me no answer. The Lord calls us through interior inspirations, through preaching, through chastisements, blessings, and the good example of holy people. Yet we remain unmoved despite what is written in Saint Luke's Gospel: That servant, who knew his master's will but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. Lk 12:47 Let us recall once more that Saint Francis was a humble servant of God through the reverence he bore Him.

Second, this servant of God was humbler still in caring for his neighbor. As Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians: For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all. 1 Cor 9:19 Our holy Father Francis became all things to all men and the servant of everybody. He wanted even to be the servant of the most despised. And once, walking along the road, he promised obedience to one of his brothers. When he was still in the world he had a great loathing for lepers. But after his conversion he devoted himself to taking care of them. He washed their feet, bandaged their ulcers and sores, cleaned away the pus and rotten blood, and kissed their feet. He cared for his neighbor to this extent in order to make himself contemptible and to implore God's grace. Saint Paul tells the Galatians: For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. Gal 5:13 Such should our freedom be.

Someone might object that while it is true we must serve our neighbor, we are not obliged to serve lepers. But God himself did not disdain this kind of service. He bent down to wash the dirty feet of his disciples, and then said to them: You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 750