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OLOTA Spiritual Assistant's Monthly Messages - Br. Gerry Clyne O.F.M.

 December 2017

 Recently in the Spiritual Assistant on-line course, we spoke about the Franciscan aspect of the “Kinship of all creation”. This is the idea that because all creatures – including ourselves - are created by the same God, we are all to some extent “brothers and sisters”. We get this idea by the fact that St. Francis addressed creatures by those titles – such “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”.

 Furthermore, Francis’ sense of “kinship” with all creation is enhanced, not only by our creation under a common Creator, but also by our common “recreation” through a common Savior - Jesus Christ. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see that God always includes creation in His covenants and promises of salvation fulfilled in Christ. After the flood, for instance, God establishes His “covenant with you (Noah), and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.” (Gen. 9:9-10). Likewise, St. Paul reveals that “creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21) Other passages such as 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21 link “a new heaven and a new earth” with the salvation which is in Christ. Furthermore Jesus, Himself, commands His Disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mk. 16:15) – not just to other people.

The fact that all creatures, along with us, are included in the recreation brought about in Christ speaks of our kinship with nature, but HOW it is brought about also speaks of it. This month we will celebrate the great Incarnation - Christmas. It is an important feast for Franciscans. We have the whole legacy of Greccio to establish its importance for Francis. It is awesome that God came to earth as a human like us, but that He came as a poor, helpless human baby is still even more awesome! St. Paul captures the same truth when he says in Philippians 2:6-8: “(T)hough he was in the form of God, (Jesus) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

It is from this, God’s great condescension (the crèche and the cross), that St. Francis gets his emphasis on “minority”, that is - poverty, humility and simplicity – which is so much part of his spirituality. And it is the humility of the Incarnation and the crucifixion that underlies Francis’ sense of “kinship with all creation”. Francis applies this humility to everything – including his approach to creation. Francis wanted to be humble, poor and simple as Jesus - even towards all creatures. In other words, as Jesus did not exploit his equality with God (Phil.2:6), so Francis does not exploit the God-given privilege of “dominion” over all creatures given to humankind. (Gen. 1:26-28).

During the season of Advent, we hear the prophet Isaiah speak of “The Peaceable Kingdom” when Christ’s salvation recreates all creation:” And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also, the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain. For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Is. 11:6-9). And so, with readings like this we are led into Christmas where we witness that God does not consider it “below” Himself to be born among farm animals in a stable and “laid…in a manger” (Lk.2:7). What a sanction to our kinship with creation! Merry Christmas, Everyone! Br. Gerry

2017 Monthly Messages

2016 Monthly Messages

2015 Monthly Messages