Lent With Saint Francis: Part II

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Saint Francis left behind him 28 admonitions for his brothers.  This Lent we will look at them.  Go here for part I and here is part II:

 

VI. THE IMITATION OF THE LORD

1. Let all of us, brothers, look to the Good Shepherd Who suffered the passion of the Cross to save his sheep. 2. The sheep of the Lord followed him in tribulation and persecution, in insult and hunger, in infirmity and temptation, and in everything else and they have received everlasting life from the Lord because of these things. 3. Therefore, it is a great shame for us, servants of God, that while the saints [actually] did such things, we wish to receive glory and honor by [merely] recounting their deeds.

This hits home to me personally.  Merely reciting what the saints did while failing to follow their hard example is a sign of a failed Christian.  This passage from Scripture comes to mind:

 [14] For even as a man going into a far country, called his servants, and delivered to them his goods; [15] And to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one, to every one according to his proper ability: and immediately he took his journey.

[16] And he that had received the five talents, went his way, and traded with the same, and gained other five. [17] And in like manner he that had received the two, gained other two. [18] But he that had received the one, going his way digged into the earth, and hid his lord’s money. [19] But after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them. [20] And he that had received the five talents coming, brought other five talents, saying: Lord, thou didst deliver to me five talents, behold I have gained other five over and above.

[21] His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [22] And he also that had received the two talents came and said: Lord, thou deliveredst two talents to me: behold I have gained other two. [23] His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [24] But he that had received the one talent, came and said: Lord, I know that thou art a hard man; thou reapest where thou hast not sown, and gatherest where thou hast not strewed. [25] And being afraid I went and hid thy talent in the earth: behold here thou hast that which is thine.

[26] And his lord answering, said to him: Wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sow not, and gather where I have not strewed: [27] Thou oughtest therefore to have committed my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received my own with usury. [28] Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. [29] For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: but from him that hath not, that also which he seemeth to have shall be taken away. [30] And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:  14-29

VII. GOOD WORKS MUST FOLLOW KNOWLEDGE

1. The Apostle says: The letter kills, but the spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6). 2. Those are killed by the letter who merely wish to know the words alone, so that they may be esteemed as wiser than others and be able to acquire great riches to give to [their] relatives and friends. 3. In a similar way, those religious are killed by the letter who do not wish to follow the spirit of Sacred Scripture, but who wish to know [what] the words [are] and [how to] interpret them to others. 4. And those are given life by the spirit of Sacred Scripture who do not refer to themselves any text which they know or seek to know, but, by word and example, return everything to the most high Lord God to Whom every good belongs.

Actions always speak louder than words:

[21] Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 7:  21

VIII. THE AVOIDANCE OF THE SIN OF ENVY

1. The Apostle says: No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3); 2. and: There is no one who does good, not even one (Rom. 3:12). 3. Therefore, whoever envies his brother the good which the Lord says or does in him commits a sin of blasphemy, because he envies the Most High Who says and does every good (cf. Mt. 20:15).

Envy, ever the end of brotherhood:

[2] And again she brought forth his brother Abel. And Abel was a shepherd, and Cain a husbandman. [3] And it came to pass after many days, that Cain offered, of the fruits of the earth, gifts to the Lord. [4] Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat: and the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offerings. [5] But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect: and Cain was exceedingly angry, and his countenance fell.

Genesis 4:  2-5

IX. TRUE LOVE

1. The Lord says: Love your enemies [do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and blame you] (Mt. 5:44). 2. That person truly loves his enemy who is not upset at any injury which is done to himself, 3. but out of love of God is disturbed at the sin of the other’s soul. 4. And let him show his love for the other by his deeds.

Loving our enemies.  Perhaps the hardest of the teachings of Christ, at least for me.  However, Christ came to call men to be like God, the God who loves us all, even as divine Justice punishes the evil that men do, while divine Mercy gives us the chance to escape from the wrath rightly due for the evil we commit.

[6] For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly? [7] For scarce for a just man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die. [8] But God commendeth his charity towards us; because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time, [9] Christ died for us; much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him. [10] For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 5:  6-10

X. THE CHASTISEMENT OF THE BODY

1. Many people, when they sin or receive an injury, often blame the Enemy or some neighbor. 2. But this is not right, for each one has the [real] enemy in his own power; that is, the body through which he sins. 3. Therefore blessed is that servant (Mt. 24:46) who, having such an enemy in his power, will always hold him captive and wisely guard himself against him, because as long as he does this, no other enemy, seen or unseen, will be able to harm him.

Oh what an unpopular comment this is today!  We live in a time when every bodily indulgence is to be engaged in to the hilt.  During the first Lent, the forty days Christ spent in the desert, he fasted to show us one of the means to weaken our body to strengthen our spirit.  That such a thing is unpopular today, detracts not a whit from it also being true:

(1] Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. [3] And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.

Matthew 1-4

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