As we mentioned in the previous reflections, following Jesus, within Franciscan spirituality, implies embracing a lifestyle based on minority and fraternity. This leads us to a new and ever renewed way of seeing and dealing with the whole of daily life: our work, our health, our mission and especially our relationship with God, with others and with nature. For this reason, after having addressed the issue of gossip, which threatens the harmony of the fraternity, St. Francis of Assisi talks next about the healthy relationship that should be established between men and women.[1]
Of course, Francis is a child of his time, and for this reason, he only focuses on the healthy relationship that the Friars Minor must maintain with women.[2] Yet, today, eight hundred years later, the Earlier Rule not only helps us to reflect on the way we should relate with women, it teaches us how to relate with everyone: men, women, children, the elderly, etc. No one should be treated as an object. Immersed in the unbridled consumerism of today’s society, we run the risk—if we are not careful—of entering into “disposable” relationships.
I only look for you when I need you and then, as if you were a plastic cup, I toss you away. I don’t even remember if we ever met.
How do we relate to people? Are we able to maintain friendships that last? When I approach someone, do I have an ulterior motive? Am I a manipulative person?
We must not fall into moralism when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Instead, we should recognize our limitations, without fear or shame. If we discover that our behavior is immature, it is important that we face that with courage and work on our weaknesses. Every Franciscan knows that behind each weakness there is a virtue waiting to be worked on.

St. Francis writes:

Where there is charity and wisdom,
there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility,
there is neither anger nor disturbance.
Where there is poverty with joy,
there is neither greed nor avarice.
Where there is rest and meditation,
there is neither anxiety nor restlessness.
Where there is fear of the Lord to guard an entrance,
there the enemy cannot have a place to enter.
Where there is a heart full of mercy and discernment,
there is neither excess nor hardness of heart.[3]

God created us to love in truth. The Franciscan is called to generate fraternity, friendship, and places of trust and freedom. This is why it is important to establish healthy relationships and environments in which everyone wants to live.

Until next time!

Friar Elio J. ROJAS

[1] Cf. Earlier Rule 12, 13; FF 38-39.
[2] “Wherever they may be or may go, let all the brothers avoid evil glances and association with women. No one may counsel them, travel alone with them or eat out of the same dish with them.” (Earlier Rule 12:1-2; FF 38).
[3] Cf. Admonitions 27; FF 177.