ROME – Pope Francis said on Thursday to always be humble when serving others, especially the least of these, remembering how much you yourself have received that you did not deserve.
“When you do some activity for the ‘little ones,’ the excluded and the least, never do it from a pedestal of superiority,” Francis said Nov. 23. “Think rather that all that you do for them is a way of returning what you have received for free.
“Make a welcoming and friendly space for all the least of these of our time to come into your life: the marginalized, men and women who live in our streets, parks or stations; the thousands of unemployed, young people and adults,” he continued.
As well as the “many sick people who do not have access to adequate care; many abandoned elders; mistreated women; immigrants seeking a respectable life; all those who live in the existential suburbs, deprived of dignity and even the light of the Gospel.”
Learn to be, as St. Francis said, “sick with the sick, afflicted with the afflicted,” the pope said.
Francis met Thursday with a group of around 400 Franciscans, members of the First and Third Ordinary Orders, encouraging them to approach everything they do with the humility of a child.
“That is why your relationship with Him should be that of a child: humble and confident and, like that of the Publican in the Gospel, (who is) aware of his sin,” and asks for God’s mercy.
The pope said that the Franciscan concept of “minority,” or of humbling yourself, is an important aspect of their relationships with God, with their brothers in the order, and with all men and women, because for St. Francis, “man has nothing of his own if not his own sin, and his value is his worth before God and nothing else.”
But how do we remain humble in all our relationships and interactions with others? he asked. By avoiding any behavior of superiority, such as quick judgments, speaking badly of others behind their back, demanding repayment for favors, and using our authority to subdue others.
We should also try to avoid the temptation to become angry or upset at others’ sins. In all your interactions with fellow brothers of the order, follow “the dynamism of charity,” the pope said.
“Therefore, while justice will bring you to recognize the rights of everyone, charity transcends these rights and calls you to fraternal communion; because it is not the rights you love, but the brothers, whom you have to accept with respect, understanding and mercy.”