The Example of Nazareth

The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel.

The first lesson we learn here is to look, to listen, to meditate and penetrate the meaning – at once so deep and so mysterious – of this very simple, very humble and very beautiful manifestation of the Son of God. Perhaps we learn, even imperceptibly, the lesson of imitation.

Here we learn the method which will permit us to understand who Christ is. Here above all is made clear the importance of taking into account the general picture of his life among us, with its varied background of place, of time, of customs, of language, of religious practices – in fact, everything Jesus made use of to reveal himself to the world. Here everything is eloquent, all has a meaning.

Here, in this school, one learns why it is necessary to have a spiritual rule of life, if one wishes to follow the teaching of the Gospel and become a disciple of Christ.

How gladly would I become a child again, and go to school once more in this humble and sublime school of Nazareth: close to Mary, I wish I could make a fresh start at learning the true science of life and the higher wisdom of divine truths.

But I am only a passing pilgrim. I must renounce this desire to pursue in this home my still incomplete education in the understanding of the Gospel. I will not go on my way however without having gathered – hurriedly, it is true, and as if wanting to escape notice – some brief lessons from Nazareth.

First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us, besieged as we are by so many uplifted voices, the general noise and uproar, in our seething and over-sensitized modern life.

May the silence of Nazareth teach us recollection, inwardness, the disposition to listen to good inspirations and the teachings of true masters. May it teach us the need for and the value of preparation, of study, of meditation, of personal inner life, of the prayer which God alone sees in secret.

Next, there is a lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character. Let us learn from Nazareth that the formation received at home is gentle and irreplaceable. Let us learn the prime importance of the role of the family in the social order.

Finally, there is a lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the ‘Carpenter’s Son’, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work; here I would restore the awareness of the nobility of work; and reaffirm that work cannot be an end in itself, but that its freedom and its excellence derive, over and above its economic worth, from the value of those for whose sake it is undertaken. And here at Nazareth, to conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern, their brother who is God. He is the prophet of all their just causes, Christ our Lord.

“Mandating face masks is unconstitutional and an affront to my freedom.” Despite the scientific wisdom of this mandate some citizens vociferously reject it. 

In the study Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, researchers found, “Freedom is perhaps the most resonant, deeply held American value.” They further point out, “In some ways, it defines the good in both personal and political life. Yet freedom turns out to mean being left alone by others, not having other peoples’ values, ideas, or styles of life forced upon one, being free of arbitrary authority in work, family, and political life. What it is that one might do with freedom is much more difficult for Americans to define.”

What then are we doing with it? 

If it is viewed from the standpoint of self-concentration, this leads to self-imprisonment, the opposite of being free. We are social beings meant to encounter others. If people center specifically on self-rights to the detriment of others’ rights and are dismissive of those others, their genuine self is damaged. On the contrary, when genuine people assume an importance greater than their own affairs, I-thou relationships, the basis of true love happen, creating respectful attentiveness to one another.

The best way to beat Covid-19 is to unify. Throughout our U.S. Capitol “In unity there is strength” reminds us of this. Rugged individuals going their own way reminds us “And divided we fall.”

Protesting mandates raises the question, “Does this reflect a lack of in depth thinking? Do those protesting free themselves from their surrounding environment and go deeply within themselves to learn what their conscience dictates? Granted it is difficult to possess an interior life in our bombastic times. The pandemic, however,  will only be conquered by thoughtful people with a moral conscience.

Morality is the sum of what ought to be done, the good. The good ought to be done, not because the alternative would be unpleasant or harmful, but on account of its own worth. Do masks have a worth of their own? Wherein is the worth in rejecting them. Freedom’s worth is the good it ultimately produces for the common good.   




Vatican Basilica
Tuesday, 2 February 2021

The Meaning of True Dedication

At the dedication of the new Marine Museum at Quantico, Virginia, Jim Lehrer of the Lehrer News Hour gave a keynote address that deepens the meaning of the 'for' preposition.

“It’s about the shared experience and the shared knowledge that come from being a U.S. Marine, such as knowing that you are only as strong and as safe as the person on your right and on your left and that Semper Fidelis really does mean “always faithful”, and that the Marines hymn is so much more than just a song... when it’s never for ourselves personally. It's always for Marines who went before us, with us, and after us, first and foremost for those who gave their lives, their health, their everything..."

Salient Reflections

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