The First Crib
The Christmas story has a powerful hold on the imagination. In the midwinter a child is born among us, a child that will save mankind. One of the most popular places in Italy is the town of Assisi because of its association with ‘il poverello’, namely, St. Francis of Assisi. One Christmas in 1223, Francis went to Grecco in the valley of Riati. Francis asked that a shed be set up on the hillside, which depicted Mary and Joseph and the child, surrounded by the shepherds and one or two animals. And he invited the people of Grecco to come and celebrate Christmas with him. They came together and walked with their lamps and stood in front of the first crib. And St. Francis spoke to them and preached of the mystery of Gods coming to us in Jesus. The people were set alight by the simplicity and the power of his words, because those people were poor and humble and, perhaps above all, wanted to experience and receive into their own hearts, the word of God, Jesus, to bring hope and forgiveness and consolation to their lives. They were fascinated not only by the words of St. Francis but by entering into the spirit of the first Christmas by contemplating the crib. From such humble and simple beginnings, I wonder how, many cribs are there today in the homes and churches of the world?