Jesus of Nazareth Completed | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | Sojourns with Schall | Catholic World Report
Benedict XVI’s unique trilogy about Jesus Christ has, in a sense, bypassed the whole world of academia by going right through it.
“Jesus’ teaching is not the product of
human learning, of whatever kind. It originated from immediate contact with the
Father, from ‘face-to-face’ dialogue—from the one who rests close to the
Father’s heart. It is the Son’s word. Without this inner grounding, his
teaching would be pure presumption.”
— Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Volume I (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 7.
“The mystery, which has been hidden
through all ages and from all generations, is now revealed to us.”
— Post-Epiphany Antiphon, Breviary, Mid-morning Prayer.
“The two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel
devoted to the infancy narrative are not a meditation presented under the guise
of stories, but the converse. Matthew is recounting real history, theologically
thought through and interpreted. And thus he helps us to understand the mystery
of Jesus more deeply.”
— Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. III (New York: Image, 2012), 119.
With the 2012 publication of The Infancy Narratives, the Holy Father’s account of Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, is complete. The slim third volume of the trilogy covers the Gospel accounts of the birth of Christ in Matthew and Luke. The Birth of Christ is placed within the historical setting of His time, but also within the Jewish background, as well as within the philosophical and cosmological significance of what such a birth means. No one could grasp the full scope of the incarnational event without averring to all the elements that serve to explain the meaning of its reality.
Much of the world is desperately trying to maintain that the evidence for the fact that Christ is God incarnate in this world is not true or intelligible. This dogmatic assumption of the “un-truth” of who Jesus is occurs in order to justify its rejection of Him. This rationalization allows the world to live as it wishes with a clear conscience, or so it thinks. It need not take seriously the cogency of the truth of Christ’s claim. The pope calmly follows the evidence and the reasoning. The fact is, as he shows, that Christ is who He said He was.
In a recent address to the International Theological Commission (December 7, 2012), Benedict spoke of the “prejudice” that argues that “religions—and in particular the monotheistic religions—are intrinsically vehicles of violence, especially because they claim the existence of a universal truth. Some consider that this ‘polytheism of values’ alone would guarantee tolerance and civil peace and would and would be in conformity with the spirit of pluralistic democratic society.”
The net effect of such a view, of course, necessarily means that religion cannot be true and therefore has no place in any public order. This view usually leaves the state in charge with no limit on itself caused by any truth or anything outside its own control. To this self-enclosed view, Benedict responds that “faith in the one God, Creator of heaven and earth, encounters the rational needs for metaphysical reflection, which is not weakened but strengthened and deepened by the Revelation of the mystery of the God-Trinity. …The form that the definitive Revelation of the mystery of the one God assumes (lies) in the life and death of Jesus Christ….”
Two things are said here that cast light on the whole thesis of Jesus of Nazareth.