The Incarnation and the Passion and Death of Jesus were two events in the life of Jesus which spoke most poignantly to the heart of St Francis of Assisi:
To celebrate the wondrous mystery of the Incarnation – God become flesh, St. Francis of Assisi began the tradition of the Christmas crib or crèche.
Through his death, Jesus fulfilled God the Father’s will that he be like us in everything except sin – even death, death on a cross. By commending his spirit to the Father, Jesus paved the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
This creche’ has been used in our Motherhouse chapel for over 50 years. All the figures are made of wood. Wood is a common image both in the incarnation and the Death of Jesus.
A relatively new Christmas carol and poem describes this image beautifully:
Wood of the cradle, wood of the cross,
Bearing a life-time of joy and of loss,
Who is your loved one? Who could he be?
Born in a manger to die on a tree?
Refrain: This, this is Jesus the Lord, here in the body and blood out-poured.
Come, come walk in his ways.
Kneel at the manger and rise from the grave.
Shepherds lie sleeping, deep in their dreams;
Angels awaken them: “What could this mean?
Whom do you herald? Whom must we find?
A child in a manger? Our God born in time?”
Come, all who hunger, come, all who thirst;
Come, all who seek him, God’s joy on the earth.
Find him a shelter, bright, safe, and warm;
See in all people his love being born.
Wood of the Cradle – Francis Patrick O’Brien
2002, GIA Publications, Inc.