In chapter VII of the Earlier Rule, Francis talks to us about the way we should serve and work, a way founded on our being minors, on minority. He writes:
None of the brothers may be treasurers or overseers in any of those places where they are staying to serve or work among others. They may not be in charge in the houses in which they serve nor accept any office which would generate scandal or be harmful to their souls. Let them, instead, be the lesser ones and be subject to all in the same house.
This means that the way we serve and work must be motivated by, and expressed through, Minorite spirituality. After the various reflections we have shared thus far, we can affirm that this quest to embody “minority” is a daily exercise. We say “exercise” because each day we must strive, as athletes do, to reach our goal, namely, to “be the lesser ones.” In terms of service and work, “being minors” puts us in a correct attitude before God, our brothers and creation, so that we may serve them in a concrete way.
First, in order to understand how we should serve and work from the standpoint of being minors, we must not confuse minority with acts of humility or with simplicity. We must not reduce minority to our preference for poverty, asceticism, or even less, submission.
The spirit of minority is rooted in the spirituality of the kenosis of the Incarnation and the Cross. The Incarnation and the Cross give us the key to understanding how we are to put ourselves at the service of God, our brothers and sisters, and creation. Moreover, they give us the tools to tackle any job.
Eight hundred years ago, Francis provided us with a clear and concrete model. Today, we might ask ourselves, with what attitude do we serve? What is our motivation in approaching any service or work we do? What prompts us to undertake certain activities? Is it the spirit of minority? Is it the kenosis of the Incarnation and the Cross, or is it vanity, money, or power?
Let all the brothers always strive to exert themselves in doing good works, for it is written: “Always do something good that the devil may find you occupied.” And again: “Idleness is an enemy of the soul.” Servants of God, therefore, must always apply themselves to prayer or some good work.
When Francis says, “strive to exert themselves,” he is not merely referring to Genesis 3:19, but to our making a commitment to do good works, which is never an easy task and implies effort and perseverance. To embody “minority”, as we said at the beginning, is an exercise; one that takes constant effort.
What about you? Are you striving to be a true “friar minor” or have you given up the struggle?
Friar Elio J. ROJAS