Friday, December 23, 2016
The imprisoned John the Baptist sent a messenger to Jesus to ask: “Are you the one or should we look for another?” In reply, Jesus sent the messenger back to John to report what he had heard and seen of the miracles worked by Christ: the blind recover sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, and the poor have good news preached to them. Christ revealed to humankind that humble love is a power that transforms, builds up, reaches out, struggles to do some good.
In 1223, St. Francis wanted to recall the story of the birth of the Christ Child. With the assistance of a friend, he created a manger so that all might, “as much as possible,” experience in some way “through their bodily eyes,” the humility of the Incarnation.
Whether the message is on the lips of Christ or St. Francis, it is important to realize that both sought to tell people of good will, regardless of their beliefs, religious commitments, or cultural backgrounds, that all women and men are called to love, as St. Francis put it, “in whatever way [you] are best able to do so” [ER, XXII, 26].
Our world is filled with conflicts and tensions, power struggles, and stories about who is included, excluded, or outright marginalized. The challenges of jobs, living wages, and access to healthcare are everywhere for those who are open to seeing the truth. So many of our neighbors - our brothers and sisters - have unmet basic human needs that cry out for a more humane, just and peaceful response.
What if each of us were inspired by the stories of our students in this issue of Siena News to take the advice of Francis to heart and consider how, “in whatever way we are best able to do so” we might make a difference by choosing the way of humility, service, and love? They took what they learned at Siena and went into the world, and in a spirit of openness and giving, made connections with others who are journeying through this life on different paths.
I invite the entire Siena community to consider the message of Christ and the invitation of Francis to make this season a Season of Love.
Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., Ph.D.