How many times have you heard the expression, “Good things come in little packages.” Do you believe that? In a society that keeps pushing for “bigger and bigger”, “more and more”when measuring the worth of something or someone it takes a stretch to believe that little packages have anything to do with something good. But “littleness” marked the teachings of Francis of Assisi who got the idea from Jesus. When Jesus, who was God (about as big as you can get) came to earth he came as a little child, a weak and poor child who needed others. He grew up in obscurity and hiddeness. When he did go public belittling remarks where made about him, such as, “What good can come from Nazareth?”,his home town. He preached a message that encouraged littleness. It was called humility, which really means living in truth. Truth has to do with living the facts. For Francis that meant recognizing the fact that who he was, what he had become, everything he had was given to him by God. He didn’t earn it. He didn’t acquire it on his own. He wasn’t entitled to it. Everything was given as a gift from an all loving God. Nothing was his own, except, as he often said, his sin. That alone he could claim because no one was responsible for that except himself.
What is there about littleness that makes it so important? For one, it takes us out of the realm of false power. Power, today, is often defined in terms of wealth, control, possessions, authority, force and these are examples of false power. While littleness is often defined in opposite terms, such as poverty, weakness, simplicity, service and witness it frequently holds the same amount of power, if not more. Francis of Assisi is one “powerful” example of this. After eight centuries he continues to hold an influential place in the lives of many. He lived in simplicity and humility. He chose poverty over riches. He lived out of his core, where truth resides. He identified with the minority, those despised by society. He lived the mandate of Jesus who stated that “Unless you become as little children, you cannot enter the kin-dom of God” –the home where God’s children reside for all eternity.
At Christmas time this year, let’s truly celebrate the birth of the Child-God, the “little package” sent to us from an All-Good God.