Bent Over in Love

Christ was a human being. He walked, he talked, people saw him. The very visible reality of his human life enabled the invisible reality of God’s love to be known. Christ helped us see the importance of moving from carnal love to spiritual love. Christ’s humanity helps us see that we do not have to flee the world to find God, because God can be found in the world. St. Francis of Assisi understood this and claimed that for him and his followers “the world is our cloister.” In her wonderful book Franciscan Prayer, Ilia Delio, O.S.F. writes: “…Francis had a profound experience of God in the broken-down church of San Damiano where he wandered in one day. Face to face with the wounded and glorified Christ on the cross, Francis met the God of compassionate love, a God ‘bent over’ in love in the wounds of the crucified Christ. … The expression of God’s self-giving love in the cross impressed Francis in such a way that he began to change. This event marked the beginning of Francis’ spiritual journey.”

Francis grew in his relationship with God by embracing poverty and simplicity, and entering deeply into relationships with the poor sharing his possessions and his very self with others in a bold expression and incarnation of the compassionate love of God. Francis moved from the carnal love of humanity to the spiritual love of God. In his weakness, Francis grew in authentic, self-giving human love. In the Incarnation, God descended and bent over to embrace all of humanity in love. Each day I need to imitate God’s profound act of humility. God’s love is far, far beyond me yet closer to me than I can possibly realize.

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