By Linda Bordoni
“Christmas is a week away,” Pope Francis reminded those present for the weekly General Audience, inviting them to ask themselves “how am I preparing to celebrate the birth of the Lord?”
A simple, but effective way, he told them, is to make a crib.
This, he told them, is exactly what he did: “I went to Greccio, where Saint Francis set up the first crib, with the people who lived there. And I wrote a letter recalling the significance of this tradition.”
The crib: a living Gospel
The Pope went on to describe the crib as a kind of living Gospel that “brings the Gospel into the places of our lives: our homes, schools, workplaces, community centers, hospitals and clinics, prisons and squares.”
It reminds us, the Pope said, of how the Lord showed His love for us by being born as one of us.
To make a crib, he continued, “is to celebrate God’s closeness, and to rediscover that He is real, concrete and alive,” and the baby Jesus with open arms tells us that God came to embrace us in our humanity.
It is nice, the Pope said, to stand before the crib and share our daily, lives, hopes and concerns with the Lord.
Then, he went on to speak of the other figures in the crib: Mary and St. Joseph who symbolise the joys, worries and harmony of family life.
A domestic Gospel
“The crib is a domestic Gospel,” Pope Francis continued, and the image of the manger evokes the meals we share as families and the centrality of Jesus, the living bread come down from heaven, into our family life.
Caught up in the frenetic rhythms of today’s life, the Christmas crib, he said, also reminds us to pause and contemplate what is truly important.
In a world in which weapons continue to be manufactured every day, and violent images penetrate our sight and our hearts, Pope Francis said, “the crib is an artisanal image of peace, that’s why it is a living Gospel.”
The Pope wrapped up his discourse inviting everyone to make a little crib in their homes “as a reminder that God came to be with us, was born a man like us, and continues to accompany us in our lives.”
“He doesn’t change things with magic, but if we welcome Him into our hearts everything can change,” he said.
Making a crib, Pope Francis concluded, is like opening the door to our home and saying: “Jesus, come in!”: “If Jesus dwells in our lives, life is reborn, and if life is reborn, it really is Christmas!”