Thursday, March 17, 2011

A biblical retreat on the Passion and Resurrection Narratives of the Gospels

By Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Fr. Thomas Rosica
Pope Benedict’s first book, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, was a masterpiece and model of authentic Scripture scholarship – the lived experience of' the praying and thinking Church, faith, piety and devotion all working together.  I am very grateful to Ignatius Press for having invited me to read Pope Benedict XVI’s second manuscript: Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week – From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection prior to its publication and presentation to the world by the Vatican Press Office on March 10, 2011.  As a student of Sacred Scripture, scholar and lecturer in New Testament, I spent two days reading the new, dense text of Pope Benedict XVI – Joseph Ratzinger – and came away from the experience as if I had been on a biblical retreat on the Passion and Resurrection Narratives of the Gospels – the very stories at the heart of the Christian faith.

Some of the very striking aspects of this book are when Pope Benedict moves from being exegete and professor to pastor and friend with his very personal additions.  One of those comes in the epilogue of the book on the Ascension of the Lord into heaven.  Benedict writes: “After the multiplication of the loaves, the Lord makes the disciples get into the boat and go before him to Bethsaida on the opposite shore, while he himself dismisses the people. He then goes ‘up on the mountain’ to pray. So the disciples are alone in the boat. There is a headwind, and the lake is turbulent. They are threatened by the power of the waves and the storm. The Lord seems to be far away in prayer on his mountain. But because he is with the Father, he sees them. And because he sees them, he comes to them across the water; he gets into the boat with them and makes it possible for them to continue to their destination.”

Benedict writes: “In our own day, too, the boat of the Church travels against the headwind of history through the turbulent ocean of time. Often it looks as if it is bound to sink. But the Lord is there, and he comes at the right moment. ‘I go away, and I will come to you’ – that is the essence of Christian trust, the reason for our joy.”

It is this personal encounter with the living Lord, traveling in the boat with us, that lies at the heart of Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI – Joseph Ratzinger.   This book should be required reading for every bishop, priest, pastoral minister and serious Catholic who would like to meet Jesus of Nazareth and deepen his/her knowledge of the very person of Jesus and the central mysteries of our faith.  I could think of no better way to prepare for Holy Week and Easter this year than to read this text.

Fr. Rosica is the CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation. Visit them online at

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