In previous reflections, we talked about money, work, alms, and of course, poverty. In chapter XIV of the Earlier Rule, when Francis writes about how the brothers should go through the world, he begins by saying: “When the brothers go through the world, let them take nothing for the journey, neither knapsack, nor purse, nor bread, nor money, nor walking stick” (Earlier Rule XIV, 1; FF 40).

It is interesting that the Poor Man of Assisi reminds us that we should go through the world as brothers[1], and not as strangers or rivals, and even less as enemies. Immediately afterwards, he quotes the Gospels of Luke and Matthew[2]. We could remain at the superficial level and imagine St. Francis is only calling us to poverty and self-emptying. However, he is not a superficial person, but a profound and mystical one. To take nothing with oneself, except the call to lead a simple life, is an act of trust, it is a leap of faith.
When the brothers go through the world, let them take nothing for the journey, neither knapsack, nor purse, nor bread, nor money, nor walking stick.” These words imply our complete abandonment to the will of God, and thus, the Poverello of Assisi reminds us 800 years later that our only security will be Him. We friars often dare to think that the services we carry out—our pastoral ministry, our missions, and even our very vocation— are something powered by our own strength or, worse, something that will make us better religious. We dare to think that our mission will be more successful if we can attain certain positions, such as Pastor, Guardian, or formator, or if we receive a title or a lot of money.
When the spirit of the Gospel ceases to be at the center of our trust and we think that we are “the saviors of the world,” many problems can arise in our fraternities. Some of these problems can border on the ridiculous, for example, even though we have chosen to live “without anything of our own” we may still argue about who owns the car—the Pastor or the Econom? Other problems are more serious, for example, engaging in the search for power, money, prestige and honors, to the point of causing a painful break in the fraternity. Therefore, our Saint writes:

We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh, but, instead, we must be simple, humble and pure…We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and ‘subject to every human creature for God’s sake(1 Pt 2:13)[3].

Let us ask ourselves: What are we looking for? What are our motivations and certainties in living our vocation or in tackling the mission, or any service within the fraternity?

Until the next reflection, my dear reader.

Friar Elio J. ROJAS

[1] We recommend reading Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis’ encyclical on fraternity and social friendship.
[2] Cf. Lk 9:3; 10:4; Mt 10:10.
[3] Cf. Second Version of the Letter to the Faithful 45-47; FF 199.