Manger scene expresses love -- pure and simple
by Sister Laura Zelten
“I bring news of great joy, today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
I love the joyous spirit of the manger scene. All the beautiful pieces that come together on that holy night: angels sing, shepherds go in haste, the babe is wrapped in swaddling clothes. I imagine Mary holding baby Jesus close to her heart.
St. Francis of Assisi teaches us that the Christmas scene is love pure and simple. It is about seeing the Christ child with our own heart. The story of Christmas at Greccio, Italy, is one of the most popular stories about St. Francis. He wanted to celebrate Christmas in way that would speak to the hearts of his brothers and peasant people of his time. He brought in real animals to set the simple scene. He showed the birth of Jesus (the Incarnation) as love, pure and simple.
“Finally, the day of joy has drawn near; the time of exultation has come. From many different places the brothers have been called. As they could, the men and women of the neighborhood with exultant hearts prepared candles and torches to light up that night whose shining star has enlightened every day and year. Finally, the holy man of God (Francis) comes and, finding all things prepared, he saw them and was glad. Indeed, the manger is prepared, the hay is carried in, and the ox and the ass are led to the spot. There simplicity is given a place of honor, poverty is exalted, and humility is commended, and out of Greccio is made a new Bethlehem.” (The Life of St. Francis of Assisi by Thomas of Celano)
May the birth of Jesus be at the center of your Christmas celebrations. May the joy of the Christmas season be in our hearts throughout the coming year.