LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, CHAPTER 3
HOW ST FRANCIS, HAVING ALLOWED AN EVIL THOUGHT TO ARISE IN HIS MIND AGAINST BROTHER BERNARD, ORDERED HIM TO PLACE HIS FOOT THREE TIMES UPON HIS NECK AND HIS MOUTH.
This chapter reminds me of an old song, Mutual Admiration Society. In Brother Francis' and Brother Bernard's MAS, the "fighting that we do" isn't about "who loves who more than who," instead, it's something like a reversal of "judge not, lest ye be judged," they each want the other to correct their faults, but they each find it hard to find fault with the other. This kind of "going overboard," such as requesting someone put their foot on his - the requestor's - neck and mouth, is the great zeal or exuberance we are invited to emulate in the gospel story of the alabaster jar. Only here, the zeal is for self improvement, seeking perfection of the spirit.
Or am I missing a humerous intent, out of the kind of overawed reverence we were warned about in the introduction? I found it difficult to imagine just exactly how Brother Bernard would put one foot on Brother Francis' neck and the other on his mouth.
Even before wondering about that, I had the impression that there's a lot we're supposed to get out of this, it wasn't written just as an account of the facts. The tone in which the voice of God speaks to Brother Francis reminds me of the angel in the visions in the Shepherd of Hermas. That's not a book I'd recommend rushing out to get, but for those who have read it . . . In general, there's a lot to reflect about in the tone of voice - as we infer it from the words - in quotations of the voice of God or His angels. At the burning bush, for example, or the three men who visited Abraham and announced the coming birth of Isaac. I recall that in the Cecil B. DeMille Ten commandments, Charlton Heston, the same actor who played Moses, did the voice of God. There's great symbolism in that. Just as the human authors of the Bible wrote in their own words and yet remained inspired; as in any voice in any dream, the words of the voice of God reflect something of our understanding of Him. (Or, so it seems to me. We shouldn't be dogmatic about such a thing.) Maybe we can see something of Brother Francis' impression of what God is like in the words the voice of God spoke to him?