The new way to live our lives is found in the embodiment of the position of minority rooted in a commitment to lifelong conversion. When capital gain and power over others are the measures of success, voluntarily embracing minority is indeed a novel way to live. [St.] Francis demonstrates that authentic Christian living is rooted in becoming subject to our brothers and sisters and, by doing so, avoiding the pitfalls of power and unjust authority. Merton teaches us that it is God who models the greatest example of humility through the Incarnation, and it is through contemplation that we come to see this more clearly. The lives of Francis and Merton show us that this is not an overnight process. Rather, we must remain committed to the process of lifelong conversion that draws us nearer to God and each other.
In essence, whether intentional or not, Francis’s movement from a place of power, wealth, and security to a social location of vulnerability and minority reflected the kenotic character of God becoming human in the Incarnation. It was a self-emptying that made possible the condition for solidarity, as opposed to service from another social, economic, and cultural place.
How important it is to live a Christian and religious existence without getting lost in disputes and gossip, cultivating a serene dialogue with all, with meekness, mildness and humility, with poor means, proclaiming peace and living soberly, content with what is offered to us! This also requires a determined commitment to transparency, to the ethical and solidaristic use of goods, to a style of sobriety and spoliation. If, instead, you are attached to the goods and riches of the world, and place your security there, it will be the Lord Himself who will strip you of this spirit of worldliness in order to preserve the precious patrimony of minority and poverty to which He has called you through Saint Francis. Either you are freely poor and minor, or you will end up being stripped.
Minority calls to be and feel oneself little before God, entrusting oneself totally to his infinite mercy. The prospect of mercy is incomprehensible for all those who do not recognize themselves as “minors,” that is, little ones, needy and sinful before God. The more aware we are of this, the closer we are to salvation; the more we are convinced that we are sinners, the more we are disposed to be saved. It happens thus in the Gospel: The persons who recognize themselves poor before Jesus are saved; instead one who thinks he has no need does not receive salvation, not because it is not offered to him, but because he has not received it. Minority also means to come out of oneself, of one’s schemes and personal views; it means to go beyond the structures — which are also useful if used wisely –, to go beyond habits and securities, to witness concrete closeness to the poor, to the needy, to the marginalized in a genuine attitude of sharing and service.