by Sister Laura Zelten
I love receiving Christmas cards and seeing all the ways in which artists depict the manger scene. My favorite card this year shows Mary holding the baby Jesus close to her heart, like a mother holds her newborn infant. St. Francis teaches us that the Christmas scene is love pure and simple. It is about seeing the Christ child with our own heart.
Thomas of Celano, a 13th century Italian friar of the Franciscans and author of several texts for church leaders, wrote how St. Francis proclaimed the birth of our Savior in the village of Greccio:
The story of Christmas at Greccio is one of the most popular known stories about Francis. Francis wanted to celebrate Christmas in way that would speak to the hearts of his brothers and peasant people of his time so he brought real animals to set the simple scene. He showed the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation, as love pure and simple. Our God came as a child, small and vulnerable; let us rejoice in the simplicity and humbleness of the Christmas scene. May the birth of Jesus be at the center of your Christmas celebrations.
A beautiful Christmas reflection, Laura. Thanks.
Merry Christmas. Fran
Thank you Sister Laura for the reminder that we see the new born baby (Jesus) with our heart and again reminding me that Francis idea of celebrating Christmas was to speak to our hearts.
Thanks, Sr. Laura,
Your reflection on the birth of Jesus and especially St. Francis' special Christmas Eve liturgy for the people of Greccio gives us the clear image of the gracious gift of the Incarnation which has transformed the world. May it ever more completely transform the hearts of all.
I'm so happy for your reminder from Thomas of Celano about Francis' commemoration of the Incarnation. Having visited Greccio this summer, your quote raised up many memories. In the Sanctuary there is a marvelous depiction of the Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus.
Thank you for sharing the story of St. Francis and his brothers together with the townspeople.