UPON THE SMALL NUMBER OF THE ELECT.
Blessed Francis’ extreme gentleness always led him to lean towards indulgent judgment, however slight in a particular case the apparent justification might be.
On one occasion there was a discussion in his presence as to the meaning of those terrible words in the Gospel: Many are called, but few chosen. [Matt. xx. 16.]
Some one said that the chosen were called a little flock, whereas the unwise or reprobates were spoken of as many in number, and so on.
He replied that, in his opinion, there would be very few christians (meaning, of course, those who are in the true Church, outside which there is no salvation) who would be lost,
because, having the root of the true faith, the tree that springs from it would sooner or later bear its fruit, which is salvation, and awakening, as it were, from death to life, they would become, through charity, active and rich in good works.
When asked what, then, was the meaning of the statement in the Gospel as to the small number of the elect, he replied that in comparison with the rest of the world, and with infidel nations, the number of christians was very small, but that of that small number very few would be lost, in conformity to that striking text, There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. [Rom. viii. 1.]
Which really means that justifying grace is always being offered them, and this grace is inseparable from a lively faith and a burning charity. Add to this that He who begins the work in us is He who likewise perfects it.
We may believe that the call to christianity, which is the work of God, is always a perfect work, and therefore leads of itself to the end of all perfection, which is heavenly glory.