The Franciscan Thesis on Christmas

December 13, 2012 Comments Off on The Franciscan Thesis on Christmas

The Christmas crèche is traditionally associated with the inspiration to Francis of Assisi in 1223. He called the people of Grecchio to reenact the infancy narratives about the birth of the Savior-Redeemer. A critical question is behind the inspiration. Francis freely sought justice or the perfect good for its own sake and made this choice of the good of the Christmas reenactment in relation to goodness itself. Another way to say this is that Francis’s freedom came from his willingness to obey his personal quest for truth and to be docile. His will to interiorize and to love Goodness for its own sake and above all else is the inspiration for his metaphysician-theologians, Bonaventure [d. 1274] and John Duns Scotus [d. 1308], to reflect on the motive of the Incarnation. Bonaventure writes that the Incarnation is the greatest of God’s gifts. Duns Scotus reasoned, with Aristotelian precision, that Christ would have been born even if Adam and Eve had not fallen. Augustine had thought it possible but concluded that it did not happen. Scotus argued that in fact this is what God has done for us. Scotus reasons that the perfection in the redemptive work of Christ is not willed by God after foreseeing the fall of our first parents, but the consequence that presupposes the perfection of the Incarnation as an end in itself. Francis began a trajectory in understanding Mary, and his disciples used a Marian metaphysics, which Franciscans believe is the way to understand what they mean.

– Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFMConventual, University of Notre Dame

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