The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1267 - 751 

example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. Commenting on this passage Saint Augustine remarks: "Let us with humility do to one another what in humility was done by the Most High. Great is this commendation of humility. And in fact the brethren do this to one another even literally when they receive one another as guests. And among the brethren where this custom of washing the feet is not practiced, they do in their hearts what they do not do with their hands. But it is much better that it should be done with the hands, for what Christ did, the Christian ought not to disdain to do. When the body stoops down to the feet of a brother, then in the heart itself the affection of humility is either enkindled or, if it is already there, confirmed."a

Pope Gregory the Ninth, who was a man full of wisdom, because of his great friendship with Saint Francis, followed his example closely. He kept a leper in his room and, dressed in the habit of a friar, looked after him. One day the leper said to him: "Has the Supreme Pontiff no one but an old man like you, to look after me?" The Pope was exhausted.b We do good in serving our neighbor. This is why Saint Paul tells us: I pommel my body and subdue it, 1 Cor 9:27 and the Book of Lamentations says: It is good for a man that he has borne the yoke from his youth.

We have seen, then, that Saint Francis was humble through his reverence for God, and humbler still in taking care of his neighbor. Coming now to the third point, we find him humblest of all despising himself, and he did so in order to follow him of whom it is written: He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. Phil 2:7 Christ was conceived in the form of a servant and, therefore, He could say of Himself: I am small and despised. I am a worm and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people. The Lord revealed His glory in heaven, and for coveting it, Lucifer and the angels who copied him came to perdition. Together with himself, Lucifer brought down humanity, created in God's image. Christ did not reveal His humility in heaven, but desiring to show us the root of wisdom, He humbled Himself. Anyone who desires to possess the wisdom of Christ must begin at the root of holiness, just as Saint Francis did. When he first changed his way of life the townsfolk pelted him with mud from the streets and threw stones at him, he went naked in front of the bishop and all the people announcing




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 751