Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

About the Book:
New York Times Bestseller! The momentous third and final volume in the Pope’s international bestselling Jesus of Nazareth series, detailing how the stories of Jesus’ infancy and childhood are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.

In 2007, Joseph Ratzinger published his first book as Pope Benedict XVI in order “to make known the figure and message of Jesus.” Now, the Pope focuses exclusively on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life as a child. The root of these stories is the experience of hope found in the birth of Jesus and the affirmations of surrender and service embodied in his parents, Joseph and Mary. This is a story of longing and seeking, as demonstrated by the Magi searching for the redemption offered by the birth of a new king. It is a story of sacrifice and trusting completely in the wisdom of God as seen in the faith of Simeon, the just and devout man of Jerusalem, when he is in the presence of the Christ child. Ultimately, Jesus’ life and message is a story for today, one that speaks to the restlessness of the human heart searching for the sole truth which alone leads to profound joy.

My Comments:
It took me a while to finish, but I really enjoyed this little book.  It wasn't a hard book to read, but rather one that had so much to think about that I would read a small section and think about it.  The Holy Father starts by taking a look at what the Gospel of John as to say about the question "Where are you from?" and looks at the genealogies in the other Gospels.  From there he takes us through the familiar Christmas stories and points out the deeper meanings and gives some side information to help us more fully understand the stories.  

One story I've never quite "gotten" is Finding Jesus in the temple.  It has always struck me as a twelve year old doing what he wanted to do without really thinking about the consequences or other people's feelings.  I've always considered the story to be a pretty good indication of Jesus' humanity.  I'm not not a theologian, obviously.  Things about the story that the Pope pointed out were that Jesus' family was devout (they went to the temple and thereby observed the law), that the regular pilgrimages to the temple reinforced Israel's identity as a pilgrim people, that the three days He was missing pre-figured the three days in the tomb, that Jesus claimed God as his father (as opposed to Joseph) and of course, that Mary kept those things in her heart.  Pope Benedict says the actual theological content the story is meant to convey is the link between radical newness and radical faithfulness, rooted in Jesus' sonship.

This one is going on my bookshelf to be re-read next Christmas.  Grade:  A.  


  1. I just finished it last week. I kept an open Bible underneath B16's book for quick reference. A terrific, relaxed, gentle, and encyclopedic reflection on the little bit there is in Bible about Jesus' childhood. A great window into the workings of the Pope's mind.

  2. Thanks for this review. I'd like to get my hands on a copy - I already have the first two books. Anything that helps us know Jesus better helps us renew our commitment to Him and this Pope proves over and over what a great teacher he is in helping us know Jesus.

  3. Thank you for this review. I am with Barb, I think I will get a copy of it.

  4. That makes three of us---at least of the number who comment.


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