In Chapter IV of the Earlier Rule, St. Francis talks about the relationship that the Superior should have with the friars and the friars with the Superior. Among the expressions he uses, such as serve, obey, admonish and encourage, Francis offers the key to a healthy fraternal relationship: “Do to no one what you yourself hate.”[1] This golden rule helps us reflect on the way we live our relationships.

As we mentioned earlier, St. Francis knew the human heart very well and he knew that building fraternity was not an easy task. However, if we could only put this one piece of advice of his into practice, we would certainly save ourselves a lot of sorrow and disappointment.
Sometimes we expect or demand certain attitudes, reactions or actions from others that they cannot give us, or worse, that we ourselves cannot give. Let us begin our reflection with the following statement: The rule and life of these brothers is this[2], namely, that we are all brothers and that we should not have “brothers who are more brothers than others” among us. Going back to the sources, reflecting again on what is written in the Earlier Rule; we are invited to contemplate this chapter, starting with the concepts of “being lesser” (minority) and “fraternity”, the two pillars of our spirituality. Living fraternity is the key to living as a “lesser being” and, in turn, living as a “lesser being” can only be carried out in “fraternity”. We will explore these issues in the next article.
“Do to others what you would have them do to you,” [3] wrote St. Francis, quoting St. Matthew (cf. Mt 7:12). We know that Francis based his entire Rule on the Word of God and it is on that basis that he asks and demands that the friars live fraternity. Along the same lines, the Poverello writes:

“Blessed is the person who supports his neighbor in his weakness as he would want to be supported were he in a similar situation.” [4]

Francis wrote the Earlier Rule eight hundred years ago and yet, as we can see, the text is very timely. Fraternity is possible here and everywhere in the world if we live these basic guidelines as the Poverello suggests, and make them our own.
Until the next reflection!

Friar Elio J. ROJAS

[1] Tobit 4, 15.
[2] Earlier Rule I, 1; FF 4
[3] Earlier Rule IV, 4; FF 13
[4] Admonitions XVIII, 1; FF 167