In recognizing his vocation to live the Gospel, Francis of Assisi knew that he could no longer identify himself with the majores, the wealthy and powerful of his day; rather, he desired to live among the minores, the poor, marginalized, and powerless and those without a voice in society. More than anything else, Francis longed to live like Jesus Christ: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). For Francis and his brothers, minority was the one thing necessary for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3-4; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17; John 13:4-14).
Minority, though similar to humility, has a social/ecclesial connotation as well. Minoritas meant not holding or exercising power over anyone or anything; it was specifically related to the renunciation of power. Francis chose to call himself a “Lesser Brother” as a way to embody the Gospel value of humility, to preach by example the need to be humble in this world, to be childlike, and to see one’s place among the poor. Living this way, Francis conformed himself to Christ who exchanged the richness of heaven for the poverty of the earth, in order that we, becoming like Christ, could be rich with the treasures of the Kingdom.
—from the book Franciscan Field Guide: People, Places, Practices, and Prayers
by Sister Rosemary Stets, OSF