In 1223 St. Francis enriched us all with one of the most cherished traditions, the Nativity Scene. Today it continues to serve as a focus for our meditation on that wondrous event when the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Going back in history, we understand that the poor man of Christ, St Francis wanted very much to see with his own eyes the circumstances of our Saviour’s arrival in the village of Bethlehem. It was the eve of Christmas and the year was 1223.
St. Francis arranged to have the scene recreated in a
cave at Greccio, using live people and animals. During the solemnities of the Mass being offered there, a little child was seen lying in the manger. From that celebration began the custom of the Christmas crib or crèche.
The crib can help us, in fact, to understand the secret of the true Christmas, because it speaks of humility and the merciful goodness of Christ, who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor”. (II Corinthians 8:9) His poverty enriches those who embrace it and Christmas brings joy and peace to those who, as the shepherds, accept in Bethlehem the words of the Angel: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”.
What a marvellous sign! Doing the reflection and contemplation in St Ignatius Church was helpful too. I can say that I am one step closer to being better prepared for Christmas which is just two days away. Praise God!