Monday, November 9, 2009
Franciscan Prayer- Jesus – Revelation of the Father
In his writings, Francis showed less a personal relationship to Christ than to the Father—the source of all goodness and the Most High. Yet Francis realized that the Son is the beloved of the Father; thus the deepest reason for clinging to Jesus is that he reveals the Father. Francis believed that Christ alone is the One in whom the Father takes delight because the Son satisfies the Father in everything.
Instead of relating to Jesus in a personal way, Francis often used the expression ‘Word of the Father’ when speaking about the person of Christ. This is surprising for one who was considered a ‘second Christ’ in the Middle Ages. Yet we have evidence of this understanding in Francis’ writings.
In the second version of his Later Admonition and Exhortation, for example, he states that, ‘Through his angel, St. Gabriel, the Most High Father in heaven announced this Word of the Father, so worthy, so holy and glorious, in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary’ (4-5).
Francis saw God as communicative and expressive—perhaps like a divine cell phone! The Father’s self-expression is his word. Jesus is the word of the Father. Francis saw a connection between the divine word, which is entirely worthy, holy and glorious, and the Incarnate word, which assumed our fragile human nature.
Francis emphasized to his followers that the word of the Father left his divine riches in order to accept the poverty of humanity. God expresses himself by giving himself away in love. The Incarnation is where the word of the Father ‘descends’ to embrace us in love. This movement of descent, shown to us in Christ, is a daily event that we see and touch in the Eucharist:
‘Behold, each day he humbles himself as when he came from the royal throne into the Virgin’s womb; each day he himself comes to us, appearing humbly, each day he comes down from the bosom of the Father upon the altar in the hands of a priest’ (Admonition One).
The descent of the word into humanity reminded Francis of the humility of God—not simply the humble circumstances of Jesus’ earthly beginnings and life but rather another name for God, who is, above all, love. In his Praises of God, Francis exclaimed, ‘You are love...You are humility.’
Francis called God ‘humility’ because he perceived the love of the Father in the descent of the Son in the Incarnation. In Bonaventure’s terminology, the Father bends low in love to embrace us fragile human beings in and through the Son, the Word of God. The Word incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth, expresses the humble love of God.