“Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house” (Luke 11:17)
At the time of Francis, Italy was not a united nation, but numerous city-states, each with its own ruler and militia. Francis was well-acquainted with constantly warring factions, often backed by one Church official or another. He understood the futility of relying on human strength and weapons. We have so much in our lives that we feel we need to defend. It can lead us to live in constant fear. If we have nothing to defend, we have room to discover the providence and the peace that relying on God alone brings to our lives.
The brothers often asked the advice of the Bishop, who received Francis with kindness, but said: “It seems to me that it is very hard and difficult to possess nothing in the world.” To this blessed Francis replied: “My Lord, if we had any possessions we should also be forced to have arms to protect them, since possessions are a cause of disputes and strife, and in many ways we should be hindered from loving God and our neighbor. Therefore in this life we wish to have no temporal possessions.”