Franciscans take three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience. It is sometimes said that Obedience is the one the creeps up on you. When one spends a lifetime working to become an individuated person with a good sense of self and one’s worth, setting aside “self will” does not come naturally. Francis understood the balance of self will, the will of the people one serves, the will of the community to which one professes, and, above all, the will of God we seek to fulfill. Here in Admonition 2 he addresses the dark side of self will – something capable of transforming the knowledge of good into the knowledge of evil through self exaltation.
Admonition 2: The Evil of Self Will
1 The Lord said to Adam: Eat of every tree; you may not eat, however, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
2 He was able to eat of every tree of paradise, because he did not sin as long as he did not go against obedience. 3 For that person eats of the tree of the knowledge of good who makes his will his own and, in this way, exalts himself over the good things the Lord says and does in him. 4 And so, through the suggestion of the devil and the transgression of the command, it became the apple of the knowledge of evil. 5 Therefore it is fitting that he suffer punishment.