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 A Sermon on the Feast of the Transferal of the Body, 1267 - 745 

the cross, the nails, and the spear. These were the arms of our Redeemer and Saint Francis bore them as second nature to him. He taught us to observe poverty like Christ, and he left this world naked just as Christ did. After he had become famous and was sick with fever, he was told to eat some meat, and he did so. Then on Laetare Sunday he preached on the slave and the free woman,a and afterwards stripped himself naked [because he had eaten meat]. Both in his life and preaching he desired to be poor and to be seen to be poor. When he was dying he ordered his brothers to lay him completely naked on the ground with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross, and even to be buried like that. And so, I tell you, he was made utterly Christ-like and configured to him. Stretched out as it were on the cross on high, he went up higher. He was totally obedient to the command: Go up after me by following me literally.

Third, the Lord said to him: Go up to God's presence by contemplating the divine splendor. Moses was told by the Lord: Ascend this mountain, Dt 32:49 that is, the established mountain which is Christ. For the Lord himself is the established mountain. And standing before the people I will show you the holy city Jerusalem. Rv 21:10

We read in the Book of Job: he hides the light in his hands. It is a characteristic of light that no one can claim it as his own. Light is given only to spiritual men. As you know, as long as matter is devoid of form, it can have no ability to receive spiritual light.b In a similar way, when a person is tied to temporal possessions which waste away and are dark and tainted, he cannot perceive the brilliance of divine light. That was the kind of advice Saint Francis gave to his brothers, having in mind the words of the Psalm: fire has fallen on them, that is, the fire of avarice and possessiveness, and they shall not see the sun of justice. The fire of avarice and possessiveness causes blindness, whereas the fire of poverty gives brightness and solace. As you know yourselves, an eagle untied and set free soars gracefully on high; but when the leaden ball is tied to its foot, it can neither fly nor soar on high, but falls to the ground. Likewise, when the soul of a Christian is shackled by the things of this earth, it cannot rise up to contemplate God. For this reason the Lord tells us: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. I assure you that love of earthly possessions can no more be harmonized with love of heavenly treasures than the earth can be united to the heavens. All this is the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, I am not con




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 745

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