Monday, February 4, 2013

Catholic Monday: Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

Welcome back to Stuart's Study. As my readers know by now, I hope, it's time for another installment of Catholic Monday. I'm sitting here at the computer screen and staring at a wall of blank space, trying to figure out how to review Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, written by none other than Pope Benedict XVI. I feel somehow inadequate and unworthy to review this book, as Pope Benedict is the head of the ENTIRE Catholic Church, not to mention a brilliant mind. However, I will try my best.

Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives is by no means my first attempt to read Pope Benedict XVI. My first attempt came trying to read the first part of the "Jesus of Nazareth" series, at which I tried and failed miserably. I decided to next try and read "Introduction to Christianity," but Pope Benedict's definition of introduction and my definition of introduction are on vastly different planes. I had to put both of those books aside, as I realized I was trying to run before I could even crawl. "The Infancy Narratives," however, are a manageable read both in length and content.

Although many will view this as the 3rd Volume in his "Jesus of Nazareth" series, Pope Benedict makes a point to the reader that this is an antechamber (a small room that leads to larger rooms) to the other two books. For this reason, I am glad to have read this book first as it is a perfect starting point to the other two books, which are wordier and deeper. Spanning approximately 130 pages, the reader is presented with four chapters and a tiny epilogue. In these chapters, one explores the Annunciations of John and Jesus, the birth of Jesus, visit of the Magi, flight into Egypt, and his finding in the Temple.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the Annunciations, particularly as it dealt with John the Baptist or John the Forerunner as he is known in the East. St. John was a true prophet like Elijah, but we tend to forget that about him. All most people know about St. John was that he wore a camelhair outfit, ate locusts, and was beheaded. However, Pope Benedict shows us so much more about him. St. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit at the Visitation when Mary greeted Elizabeth and John jumped in Elizabeth's womb. This means St. John the Forerunner was also filled with the Holy Spirit. This is something I never would have come to realize on my own, but Pope Benedict spells this out as well as many other things one misses in the Christmas stories we have heard all our lives.

This is a 5 star book and one that would be beneficial to read. Ideally, one could read this during Advent in preparation for Christmas. However, Advent is a long ways away, and I wouldn't wait ten months to pick up and read this book. After reading this book, I am reminded of something I heard/read from George Weigel. I don't know the exact quote, but he said something to the effect of Pope John Paul II opened our hearts. Pope Benedict XVI filled them up. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. Some helpful links related to this book are listed below.