The manger and the cross are the chosen thrones of Jesus Christ, our King, Pope Francis said on Wednesday.
“When the angels announce the birth of Jesus — ‘Go to find him’ —the sign is: you will find a baby in a manger. That is the sign. The throne of Jesus is the manger, or the street during his life when he preached, or the cross at the end of his life: this is the throne of our King,” the pope said Dec. 28 at his weekly public audience in the Vatican.
In his message, Pope Francis emphasized the love with which Jesus came into the world, lived, suffered, and died. He also gave a particular focus to the words of St. Francis de Sales, a bishop and doctor of the Church, who died 400 years ago on Dec. 28.
The pope quoted from a letter of St. Francis de Sales to his friend, St. Jane Frances de Chantal: “I imagine I see Solomon on his ivory throne, all beautifully gilded and carved, which, as the Scripture tells us, had no equal in all the kingdoms of the earth (1 Kings 10:18-20) neither was there any king that could be compared, for glory and magnificence, with the king that sat upon it (1 Kings 10:23). And yet, I would a hundred times rather see the dear Jesus in his Crib, than all the kings of the world on their thrones.”
“It’s beautiful what he said,” Pope Francis commented. “Jesus, the King of the universe, never sat on a throne: He was born in a stable, like we see here,” he said, gesturing toward a Nativity scene from Guatemala in the Paul VI Hall. Jesus was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; and finally he died on a cross and, wrapped in a sheet, was laid in the tomb.”
Pope Francis said, to mark the 400th anniversary of St. Francis de Sales’ death, he is releasing an apostolic letter on the Bishop of Geneva, Switzerland.
The title of the message, “Everything pertains to love,” was taken from St. Francis de Sales’ “Treatise on the Love of God,” in which the saint wrote: “In Holy Church, everything pertains to love, lives in love, is done for love and comes from love.”
“God,” Pope Francis said, “has found the means to attract us however we are: with love. Not a possessive and selfish love, as unfortunately human love so often is. His love is pure gift, pure grace, it is all and only for us, for our good. And so he draws us in, with this disarmed and disarming love.”
“Do not forget the throne of Jesus,” he urged, “the manger and the cross, this is the throne of Jesus.”
Francis also drew from another letter of the 17th-century saint, who wrote: “The magnet attracts iron, amber attracts straws. Whether, then, we are iron in our hardness, or straws in our lightness and worthlessness, we must unite ourselves to this little Infant.”
“Our efforts, our weaknesses, they only resolve in front of the Nativity scene, in front of Jesus, or in front of the cross: Jesus stripped [of his clothes], a poor Jesus,” he said.
“Here, dear brothers and sisters, is a great teaching, which comes to us from the Child Jesus through the wisdom of St. Francis de Sales: to desire nothing and reject nothing, to accept everything that God sends us. But be careful!” he warned. “Always and only out of love, always and only out of love, because God loves us and only ever wants our good.”
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