The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis, 1267 - 757 

earthly comfort, forfeits heavenly consolation, as when God rained down upon the sons of Israel manna to eat, a food having in it all that is delicious and the sweetness of every taste, not sensing its sweetness, they pined after the melons and garlic. Furthermore, God made streams come out of the rock for the Jews. Therefore, to everyone in the furnace of poverty observing self-denial, purity, simplicity, humility, and kindness, God will give his grace and make them like pure gold.

Second, Saint Francis was chosen by God because of his indomitable zeal for the Christian faith. Of Saint Paul it is written: He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry myname before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel. The Apostle Paul was endowed with this zeal because he was consumed with desire to spread faith in Christ among the Jews, then the Greeks, and afterwards among the Romans. Saint Francis wanted to be poor for Christ's sake, and because of his zeal for the faith he became God's chosen instrument. He journeyed into many countries to spread the Christian faith. On three occasions, he attempted to go overseas but was prevented by shipwreck. He travelled to Miramamolin in Spain and then to Morocco, where later our friars were martyred.a On a third occasion, he went to the Sultan of Egypt and proclaimed the Christian faith to him, longing to be torn to pieces for the faith. The Sultan said to him: "Let us bring in our wise men so that we can debate our faith and yours." Saint Francis replied: "Our faith is beyond human reason and reason anyway is of no use except to a believer. Besides, I cannot argue from Holy Scripture because your wise men do not believe the Scriptures. Instead, make a fire of wood, and I will go into it together with your wise men. Whichever of us is burnt, his faith is false." On hearing this the Sultan's wise men withdrew. The Sultan began to smile and said: "I don't think I will find anybody to go into the fire with you." "Then," answered Saint Francis, "I will go into the fire alone, and if I am burnt, account it to my sins; if I am not, then embrace the Christian faith." The Sultan replied: "I could not dare do that, for fear my people would stone me. But I believe that your faith is good and true." And from that moment the Christian faith was imprinted on his heart.

Third, Saint Francis was chosen by God on account of his exceedingly fervent love of Christ crucified. He could make his own the words of The Song of Solomon: My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, chosen out of thousands. Christ himself was radiant in the incarnation because of his sinlessness and ruddy in his passion. Saint Francis had




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 757