In the first chapter of the Earlier Rule, St. Francis of Assisi tells us that the foundation of this Rule is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What “regulates” our life, what shapes it, its departure and arrival point, is the Gospel.

The whole life of the Poverello of Assisi was imbued with the Gospel. The Good News was the heart and the driving force of the Father of the Minors.
Thomas of Celano tells us that one day, after listening to a passage from the Gospel in the Church of Santa Maria della Porziuncola, Francis exclaimed: “This is what I want, this is what I seek, this is what I desire with all my heart”[1]

“… This is what I desire…”
As we reflect on the Earlier Rule, we realize that the invitation Francis made eight hundred years ago is still valid and attractive. Yet how do we put such a distant proposal into practice, in a context as different as ours?
Francis reflected on the Gospel to live and embody it. He “fleshed out” the Word in his own life and planting the Word in the hearts of his contemporaries, he became their “mother”[2].
To reflect on the Earlier Rule today is an invitation to drink again from the source and to ask ourselves as Franciscans: How do we embody the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ today? Is this what we want, is this what we seek, is this what we desire with all our heart? Of course! Moreover, because we want to and can, we always return to the source, to drink from it and to reaffirm that even today, our Rule and life is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the first chapter of the Earlier Rule, Francis inserts four quotes from the Gospel to serve as a foundation and inspiration for those who embrace this way of life[3]. What is our foundation? What is the Gospel passage that guides your life today?

“… To follow the teaching and footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ…”[4] is a great challenge today and always.

Until the next reflection,

Friar Elio J. ROJAS

[1] 1Cel IX, 22.

[2] “And they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are spouses when the faithful soul is united by the Holy Spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers, moreover, when we do the will of His Father Who is in heaven; mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience; and give Him birth through a holy activity, which must shine before others by example” (Later Admonition and Exhortation 50-53, FF 200.

[3] Obedience: Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’” (Mt 16:24). Chastity: “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26); “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). With nothing of their own: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).

[4] Earlier Rule I, 1; FF 4.