The Catechetical Saints
Part 9

 

We believe that Jesus of Nazareth,
born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem…
is the eternal Son of God made man.
(CATECHISM #423)


            Every crèche erected this December witnesses to how thoroughly St. Francis kept Christ in Christmas.  And millions of television viewers tuning in for multiple seasonal specials owe a debt of gratitude to television’s heavenly patroness, St. Clare, whose final earthly Christmas Eve was marked by a miraculous vision of Nativity celebrations, not in her own monastery chapel, but at the Basilica of St. Francis on the other side of Assisi.

Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family.
Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event.
In this poverty, heaven’s glory was made manifest.
The Church never tires of singing of the glory of this night. 
(525)

          Neither did St. Francis and St. Clare.  The Little Poor Man, desiring to see it all as it really was, sent oxen and asses and a crowd of townspeople climbing up Mount Greccio in the cold of Christmas Eve 1223 to see the new Bethlehem he had erected under the stars.  St. Clare, glorying in the poverty of the Infant Savior, counseled her Sisters to cherish their poor, cross-form habits for the love of the most holy and beloved Child, wrapped in such poor little swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  (Rule of St. Clare, chapter 2)

God has acted far beyond all expectation --
He has sent His own “beloved Son.”
(422)

          Here lies the secret of real Christmas joy that neither shopping days’ counts nor overly tinseled trees can usurp.  Who of us has not been stopped somewhere on the overly busy road to December 25 -- perhaps in a moment of stillness or by the gentleness of a song -- to marvel as Clare and Francis did at what REALLY took place in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago?  O marvelous humility!  O astounding poverty! wrote an exultant St. Clare.  The King of angels, the Lord of heaven and earth, is laid in a manger!  And the on-going Christmas wonder is that the Son of God still desires to dwell among us, still wants to be laid in the manger of our hearts, to begin anew His life of love in us, for it is

          only when Christ is formed in us
(that) the mystery of Christmas
will be fulfilled in us.
Christmas is the mystery of this marvelous exchange:
“we have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ
who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.
(526)

          Yes, the Church never tires of singing of the glory of Christmas night. . . and neither should we.

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