Saturday, December 27, 2014

Franciscans and the Nativity

Throughout Christmas and up to Epiphany, God’s word proclaims Jesus’ mastery over creation.  In the Gospel readings he can heal the sick; he multiplies the loaves and fishes; he walks on water.  These miracles demonstrate and remind us of Jesus’ almighty power and how much he emptied himself when he became one with us.  Not as a man, but as an infant. 

The Creator of the world could not walk, talk, or even roll over.  The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity weighed just a few pounds; he shivered, cried, and nursed at his mother’s breast.  The message of Christmas and God's incarnation is shocking. He who created the billions of galaxies with billions of stars, who created the countless creatures of our world, became completely dependent on us for his safety, well-being and nourishment.

It seems almost blasphemous to suggest that God became human. Yet, he did so out of love for us.  A testament to who “I” to who “We” are.   That are goodness far out weights our brokenness.  That we are much more than our sinfulness.  So much so that God placed his trust and faith completely in us.  And given our track record of violence he probably should have feared us. 

Jesus, became one with us, out of love for us, and amazingly as scripture points out, "we must have the same love for one another" (1 Jn 4:11).  One of the great Christian apologists of our time, G.K. Chesterton, once wrote a parable to illustrate this point:
“A man who was entirely careless of spiritual affairs died and went to hell.  And he was much missed on earth by his old friends.  His business agent went down to the gates of hell to see if there was any chance of bringing him back.  But though he pleaded for the gates to be opened, the iron bars never yielded.  His priest also went and argued:  “He was not really a bad fellow; given time he would have matured. Let him out, please!  The gates remained stubbornly shut against all their voices.  Finally, his mother came; she did not beg for his release.  Quietly, and with a strange catch in her voice, she said to Satan:  “Let me in.”  Immediately the great doors swung open upon their hinges.  For love goes down through the gates of hell and there redeems the dead.”  
The incredible graciousness, power, and mercy that came into our world in Jesus is still, at least potentially so, in our world in us, the Body of Christ. What Jesus did we too can do; in fact, that is precisely what we are asked to do as Christians. We are called to enter the world of another; to enter their pain and suffering. We are to be reminders that their goodness far out weights their brokenness. That they are much more than their sinfulness. We are to remind others that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God and they are GOOD!

This is the true message of Christmas and the primary mission of the followers of St. Francis of Assisi.  A powerful message of our goodness and the message we are called to share with others. 

Peace and All Good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

Join the Franciscan friars of the Province of Saint Barbara in praying the "Collect" and
reflecting on the Gospels of Advent leading up to the powerful message of Christmas.

Personal Reflection:

If you feel called to religious life as a Franciscan friar of the Province of Saint Barbara are you willing to enter the world of another, to enter their pain and suffering?

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
2201 Laguna Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone:  (408) 903-3422

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