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For the past ten years I have been working in a livelihood project with a group of Subanen artisans. Every year we design Christmas cards that simultaneously celebrate the story of God’s Creation and the story of God’s Incarnation. This year the Subanen artisans are carefully crafting images of Jesus in the manger within five ever-expanding settings from the tiny stable in Bethlehem to the vast heart of our spiraling Galaxy. While they craft cards, I have the task of crafting a reflection – with a lot of help from St Francis – about the meaning of their cards.
St Francis is credited with instituting the Christmas custom of setting up manger scenes in our homes and churches. The story goes that shortly before Christmas 1223 Francis encouraged the people of Greccio to reconstruct a manger scene in a cave near their town. He explained to the people: ‘If you want to celebrate the Feast of the Lord at Greccio, hurry and diligently prepare what I tell you. For I wish to recall to memory the little child who was born in Bethlehem. I want to set before our bodily eyes the hardship of his infant needs’. The manger scene touched the hearts of the people of Greccio and it continues to touch our hearts today.
Francis’ words make it clear that he never intended the manger scene to be a cute and cozy recollection of Christmas. Instead, he wanted to stress the ‘hardships’ facing Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI
This is the talk given by the Holy Father in
Dear young friends,
In our pilgrimage with the mysterious Magi from the East, we have arrived at the moment which Saint Matthew describes in his Gospel with these words: ‘Going into the house (over which the star had halted), they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him’ (Mt 2:11). Outwardly, their journey was now over. They had reached their goal. But at this point a new journey began for them, an inner pilgrimage which changed their whole lives. Their mental picture of the infant King they were expecting to find must have been very different.
By Little Sister Goneswary Subramaniam LSJ
Sister Gones stars with a quote from the mission statement of the Little Sisters of Jesus to which she and Sister Annarita belong. You can find out more about their congregation at http://www.rc.net/org/littlesisters/
“Because of Jesus and His Gospel, in a desire to follow Him closer in His 30 years at Bethlehem and Nazareth, the communities of the Little Sisters place themselves among the ordinary masses of society, may it be rural, urban slums or elsewhere.”
One of them
By: Sr. Marcelle Bual, SPC
with Dom Helder Camara
So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judea, to David’s house and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with the child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger because there was no room for them in the living space.( LUKE 2:4-7)