Pope Francis praying at the site of the Baby Jesus’ Re-appearance in the arms of St. Francis
Senior Citizenship hit me like a double-barreled shotgun, my 62 year old body suddenly filled with all sorts of ill. Ho Ho Ho, what a sack o’ woe! But the Biggest Bang wasn’t any of the new diseases or newly-aggravated old ones. No, the worst of it all was being forced into imprisonment. Hours upon hours i have been held captive in medical waiting-rooms, pacing or sitting under large TV screens that battered me with either hideous Trumpisms or, even worse, movie upon movie supposedly about Christmas – with a thousand commercials in between supposedly about Christmas, too.
Let me tell you, NAUSEA was the ONLY SYMPTOM i didn’t have until then!
And it all reached its sorriest, sourest crescendo today with some story about a family in some big fancy mansion who were running out of money. Then, as if magically, miraculously, the man got a giant bonus, and happiness reigned again, as father declared, “Now we can have a Real Christmas!”
PLEASE, will someone get me the oxygen! Or, wait!! if i’m gonna have to watch any more, take AWAY my oxygen!
Thank God this ole body still has its memory. i tried my best at each place to shut my eyes, tune in to my lovely tinnitus ring, and to journey back to the two best places that i have ever visited, Assisi and Greccio, Italy….
Greccio, high upon a cliff overlooking the beautiful Rieti Valley, is where you lay eyes on one of the oldest known pictures of Saint Francis, apparently how he really looked. He is crying over how PEOPLE STILL DON’T GET IT.
And Greccio is where the whole wonderful tradition of reenacting the First Christmas, The REAL THING, began – with Francis. (NO, he can’t be held responsible for any of this MODERN MESS!) For Francis it was ALL SO SIMPLE. We humans, including the church kind, are the grand old complicators!
Francis’ intention was to recall the whole STARK BEAUTY of it all. Over this large barren rock he laid out the scene, gathering the common folk of Greccio all around. He looked out from that cliff and saw a world in desperate need of some reminder of that HIGH POINT OF HISTORY. He was watching so sadly as the Great Divide between rich (his own family) and poor grew wider every day, and he could not tell which side was the richer or which the poorer. The one and only thing of which he was certain was that the Son of God was Poorest of all. Christmas had nothing to do with cluttering things. No disguises. It was simply about a Babe on a rock.
And the Babe was a living, breathing, crying, bleeding (yes, even pooping) Love Letter from the Heavenly Father, saying, “See, I have not given up on you yet!” Why a Baby? Because i suppose a baby will always bring out the Best of people. A baby disarms, a baby unites, a baby makes people forget differences and disputes – and start over. A baby makes people act silly again, like clowns, like children!! yes, even ones who have been quite hardened by life.
THIS BABY wanted to let us know, “I understand! Or what I don’t understand yet, I will – in your Time!” This Baby – if all sorts of people could consider Who He Is – might make all of the different sides stop for a day (remember how the Germans and the Allies STOPPED that night and had a smoke together, and a laugh or two, right on the battlefield! Christmas Night in The Great World War!) Or maybe they will pause for just a moment, then say, let’s make peace for the BABIES’ SAKE…There is no limit to what a BABY can do!
So, please, don’t look for a bonus to have a nice Christmas. Rather, let’s LOOK AT THE BONUS (the Good God) and have a REAL CHRISTMAS!