My heart is both happy and heavy. That both are true at once is a mystery to me, one I’m invited to embrace often. At Christmas we celebrate with joy, God born as a child into our world. Known as Emmanuel, God-with-us, Jesus lives still and is present in all of life through the power of the Holy Spirit—another mystery! Thankfully this is true in the midst of a global recession where suffering reaches into our hearts and homes with social, economic, and political consequences. Perhaps these paradoxes create an opening for us to re-evaluate our priorities as individuals and as communities.
Saint Francis, writing 800 years ago, wrote compellingly about the Incarnation, about God becoming human in and through us:
They are the spouses, brothers and sisters, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are his spouses when the faithful soul is united by the Holy Spirit with our Lord Jesus Christ. We are his brothers and sisters when we do the “will of the Father who is in heaven”. We are mothers when we bear him in our hearts and bodies with divine love and with pure and sincere consciences, and when we give birth to him through a holy life which should enlighten others because of our example. 1LtF:7-10
Amazing! Francis understood that many levels of relationship are true at the same time. This insight of Francis is one that rings true with my own experience of living the Gospel. Returning to our San Rafael, Mexico mission for the blessing of our new casa there, I witnessed such diversity of relationship. On December 13th the local Bishop, priests and families from the surrounding area joined the Sisters for a celebration of Mass, a house blessing, recognition of the builders and donors, song and dance, meal and conversation. Beautiful in its simplicity, the casa is practically laid out in hacienda style for Sisters, secondary students, volunteers and young women interested in our Franciscan way of life to live, pray, learn and serve together. The example of their shared life witnesses to our gracious and provident God.
May each of us give birth to Jesus through holy lives, giving example as Saint Francis exhorted to living as spouse, brother or sister, and mothers of Jesus. May God’s peace and joy be with each of us and with our world.