The story of St Francis and the Christmas Crib at Greccio shows what was really important to Francis – the poverty of Jesus and his mother, and the discomfort felt by the little baby. For Francis, the external poverty of Christ’s birth at Bethlehem was representative of the radical poverty of the Incarnation. Celano also placed an emphasis on the virtues of simplicity, poverty, and humility, leading us to understand that the poverty of Francis is in imitation of the poverty of Jesus.
During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we invite you to spend some time in quiet prayer before the Christmas Crib, and offer some questions for your reflection.
1. What is the place of poverty – simplicity – humility in my life?
2. Celano wrote of how Francis wished “to enact the memory of that babe who was born in Bethlehem”. Where do we enact “memory” in our lives? Are we able to re-read the events of our lives and perceive the Lord’s presence in them?
3. What truly is the place of the Eucharist in my life, in the course of my day?
4. What is the place of the senses in my relationship with God, and in how my faith is expressed?
5. How open am I to the new and to what challenges me? How can I grasp the beauty of poverty?
Francis spoke of making room for creativity, which opens us up to the new. We are invited to give space to feelings, to joy, to songs, to festive celebration. We are also called to enjoy the beauty of poverty, which in the story of Greccio is characterised by a dignity and beauty that become a source of joy.