The new way to live our lives is found in the embodiment of the position of minority rooted in a commitment to lifelong conversion. When capital gain and power over others are the measures of success, voluntarily embracing minority is indeed a novel way to live. [St.] Francis demonstrates that authentic Christian living is rooted in becoming subject to our brothers and sisters and, by doing so, avoiding the pitfalls of power and unjust authority. Merton teaches us that it is God who models the greatest example of humility through the Incarnation, and it is through contemplation that we come to see this more clearly. The lives of Francis and Merton show us that this is not an overnight process. Rather, we must remain committed to the process of lifelong conversion that draws us nearer to God and each other.
In essence, whether intentional or not, Francis’s movement from a place of power, wealth, and security to a social location of vulnerability and minority reflected the kenotic character of God becoming human in the Incarnation. It was a self-emptying that made possible the condition for solidarity, as opposed to service from another social, economic, and cultural place.
Our Holy Father, St. Francis, reminded us, through his desire to recreate the scene of the Incarnation at Greccio, that we are ONE in our Lord. The question for each of us to consider throughout this season of anticipation is, what can we, as sisters and brothers to one another, do to rekindle the spark of the Spirit’s fire and enthusiasm within each of us and within our Fraternities so that we may open our hearts to hearing, healthing and healing one another so that together, as family, we can journey into the new year with open minds and open hearts to the direction of Him who has called us? May the Spirit of the living God grant us the grace to be available as Mary was so that we may respond to His call to rekindle the fire within us not only individually but fraternally, thereby doing what is ours to do in this time and in this place.
No room! The Creator of the universe finds no room in His own creation! The God of all creation is refused a welcome by those from Whom they received life! Almighty God is born in a hovel for animals, Whose throne is a manger and Whose adoring court are a humble couple and poor shepherds from the hillside who were tending sheep! What mystery of love! Here is a total emptying! How can we question that God understands our human condition? The ecstatic praise that St. Francis of Assisi once said when he reflected upon the Mystery of the Incarnation: O sublime humility, O humble sublimity! is the awe-filled acknowledgment and prayer we offer before the greatness of such emptying of Himself! It all began with Mary’s “Yes” to the Father’s request for her availability to allow God to be born in human history.
For Francis and Clare, prayer is to lead to a renewal of the “Incarnation;” God is to “take on flesh” anew in one’s life through the action of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of God in one’s life should shine before others, as a light to the world.