Son of God is born
“Amazement and wonder“. Who describes sensations, sentiments and emotions experienced in front of the Nativity scene, in front of that “wonderful sign of the Crib” which represents the birth of Jesus, is Pope Francis, in his apostolic letter Admirabile signum.
Amazement and wonder accompany our gaze, which, always facing upwards, turns to the right and moves from the scene of the Annunciation to that of the Nativity.
“Representing the event of the birth of Jesus – continues Pope Bergoglio – is equivalent to announcing the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God with simplicity and joy”.
In this way, we continue our journey through the episodes of the Childhood of Jesus and, with simplicity and joy, we walk towards “Who became man to meet every man”.
A spiritual place, full of meaning, which through its pictorial works wants to be didactic in telling and describing all the events of Divine Revelation and the life of Saint Francis.
Once arrived at the homonymous square, it is likely to be surprised by this construction which appears to be bounded by the buildings. The impression is of being in front of a huge stage, which takes on a suggestive appearance with the first light of the evening.
Saying Christmas means to say Assisi, because the brothers of Francis continued to celebrate Christmas in their churches in all the cities of the world: the Christmas of the child who was born poor, not out of necessity but out of love.
Surrounded by buildings, the Town Hall square was the place where, once, the entire socio-political and cultural life of Assisi used to take place. The rectangular square begins at the end of Corso Mazzini, which connects it to the basilica of Saint Chiara.
Francis wanted everyone to celebrate and we propose you to live this experience in the Nativity immersion.
«This first census was made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone went to be registered, each in their own city. Joseph also, from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, went up to Judea to the city of David, called Bethlehem: he belonged to the house and family of David. He had to be registered with Mary, his wife, who was pregnant “(Lc 2, 1-5). Christ really existed, he is real, it is not a legend, an idea: “He is noted in the imperial registers, he belongs to the horizon of our world. The incarnation also means leaving a trace of ink in the imperial archives “.
It may seem a coincidence, but “the birth of Jesus in the city of David is placed within the framework of the great universal history”. Luke says again: «While they were in that place, she gave birth to her first-born son, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the accomodation”(Lc 2, 6-7).
The event par excellence takes place: the Son of God is born.
Our attention, in the ample and delightful Lucanian narration, is captured by Mary, who guards within herself, meditates in her heart the events that unsettle – in the most positive sense of the term – her existence as a woman and, through her, the destiny of all humanity: the Savior has come. “On the poor manger in the Bethlehem cave, there is already this cosmic splendor: here the real firstborn of the universe has entered among us”
An apocryphal text that will be taken up again in the 13th century by the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Varagine and which will attract a large following among artists. Luke recounts how Joseph went with his wife Mary to the city of Bethlehem in Judea, to register for a census ordered by Emperor Caesar Augustus.
The woman was pregnant, she gave birth to her son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the accomodation. There were numerous shepherds in the region, who were warned by an angel about the birth of the savior in the city of Bethlehem.
In the Gospel of the Pseudo-Matthew, it is told how Joseph was going to Bethlehem, taking with him the bride who was expecting a child, when they were stopped on the street by a beautiful boy, who urged Mary to enter a cave, where she gave birth to her son. Joseph went away to seek for help and found two midwives, one of whom asked to take the baby in her arms, while the other had a paralyzed hand for doubting the mother’s virginity, although was healed once she touched the baby. In the painting, we find a third version of Jesus’ birth, with Mary who took refuge with the child under the shed of a stable, together with an ox and a donkey, while two women look after the same child giving him his first bath in an ancient tub.
Here Giotto reinterprets an ancient story, and does so in the name of beauty.
Written by Prof. Elvio Lunghi
God manifested himself in Christ and, a few centuries later, Christ manifested himself in another man, another “little one“, who will once again change the fate of humanity. «Little one», thus Francis wrote about himself, in his Testament, in which he blesses and invites his brothers to follow his path: «And whoever observes these things, let them be filled in heaven with the blessing of the Most High Father, and on earth may them be filled with the blessing of his beloved Son, with the most holy Paraclete Spirit (term with which the evangelist John indicates the Holy Spirit, nrd) and with all the powers of heaven and with all the saints. And I, little brother Francis, your servant, for what little I can, confirm to you inside and outside this most holy blessing. Amen”.
Here is the “school of St. Francis”, here the role of the Nativity scene returns, as a “sweet and demanding process of transmitting the faith. Starting from childhood and then in every age of life, it educates us to contemplate Jesus, to feel God’s love for us, to feel and believe that God is with us and we are with him, all children and brothers thanks to that child, Son of God and of the Virgin Mary. And to feel that happiness lies in this ». It is God who made his dwelling among us that night.
However, we are not always able to grasp the importance of the embrace that the Lord offers us.
It is Pope Francis who reminds us that “from the Franciscan origin, the Nativity scene is an invitation to” feel “, to” touch “the poverty that the Son of God chose for himself in his Incarnation. And so, implicitly, it is an appeal to follow him on the path of humility, poverty, spoliation, which leads from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross. It is an appeal to meet him and serve him with mercy in the most needy brothers and sisters ».
Let us learn from Mary and Joseph: let us place ourselves with faith at the service of God’s plan. Even if we do not fully understand it, let us entrust ourselves to his wisdom and goodness. Let us first of all seek the Kingdom of God, and Providence will help us ».
A final suggestion is related to the chapel of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where upon entering we are called to lower down. There is in fact a small door that invites us to bow our heads. Thus also the mystery of Christmas invites us to bow our heads: every reason, faced with this mystery, gets shattered.
Mary Mother of Jesus give me your heart so beautiful pure immaculate full of love and humility so that I may receive Jesus in the bread of life love him as you loved him and serve him under the guise of the poorest of the poor.
"You can’t save yourself alone". Never as much as today, the words of Pope Francis are a mirror of this period. Words that adapt to the profession that we want to show this year: that of the nurse. People who work day and night in saving the sick people, in whispering words of comfort, putting their lives at the service of others.
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