Day 7. Admonition4.That no one should take Superiorship upon himself.
I did “not come to be ministered unto, but to minister,” says the Lord. (Matt. 20: 28) Let those who are set above others glory in this superiority only as much as if they had been deputed to wash the feet of the brothers; and if they are more perturbed by the loss of their superiorship than they would be by losing the office of washing feet, so much the more do they lay up treasures to the peril of their own soul. (page 10 this edition)
Works of Art such as the above must be familiar to all of us as is the narrative in St John’s gospel about Jesus washing his disciple’s feet.
John is the only Evangelist who tells this story and does so in the context of the Last Supper, washing each others’ feet is something we are to do as part of the ‘New Commandment’.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17 NIV)
The ‘New commandment’ To love each other as I have loved you – is the ‘example’:- Francis refers to this ‘example’ in his admonition. Our example and Pattern is our Lord Jesus Christ who did not consider washing his disciples feet to be beneath him but rather an act of humility showing the equality of our new life in Him. Francis impresses on his brothers that in reality all offices are no different than the Office of the Washing of Feet and all glory is in this. When time comes for us to be relieved of this office our regret will not be less than if we had be Superior of the order.
While one is Superior of the Order one has as much glory or importance as one would should they be the one who works in the kitchen or the laundry so we ought to look across to our brethren rather than up to or down, with respect for all Offices since none are worth-less than another.
Saint Francis of Assisi, The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi, newly translated into English with an Introduction and Notes by Father Paschal Robinson (Philadelphia: The Dolphin Press, 1906). 10/9/2015. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1172#lf0535_label_116