Perhaps it still may be hard to see Jesus’s life as like your own. Likewise, the culture of first-century Nazareth may seem almost incomprehensible. In his book Jesus of Nazareth the Scripture scholar Gerhard Lohfink reminds of us how strange Jesus would appear to us today:
He would—probably to our profound horror—look quite different from the way that we had imagined him. He would be neither the sovereign Christ of the Byzantine apses nor the fettered man of sorrows of Gothic art nor the Apollonian hero of the Renaissance. His Aramaic language would be comprehensible to only a few specialists. A lot of his gestures and postures would seem strange to us. We would sense he lived in a different civilization and a different culture.
Nonetheless, because of what we know of the human person and what we can know about the Hidden Life, we can begin to identify intersections with our own lives.
Many of us protest that we are just too ordinary to be holy. Our lives can feel far from the extraordinary life of Jesus of Nazareth. And so we sadly speak of our “just” lives. I’m just a student. I’m just a mom. I’m just a businessman. But for most of his life, Jesus was just a carpenter in a little nowhere town. Meier calls him “insufferably ordinary.” This is why his townspeople and family and friends were so shocked when he began his public ministry: “Is not this the carpenter?”
Jesus shows us the inestimable value of ordinary time. As the Jesuit theologian John Haughey commented, during Jesus’s time in Nazareth, God fashioned him into “the instrument most needed for the salvation of the world.” In Nazareth Jesus speaks to the meaning and worth of our ordinary lives.
Soon the tektōn who had been hidden in the small town would begin his public ministry, step onto the world stage and decisively change human history.
Excerpted from “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” by James Martin, S.J.
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Reflection by pilgrim Cindy Schmersal
In his homily at today’s liturgy, Fr. George Williams, S.J., likened the abundance of grace experienced in the first two days of our pilgrimage to drinking from a fire hose, a fitting description. For me, it is quite simply overwhelming: the magnitude of God’s goodness, the love God so readily seeks to lavish upon each us, and the reality that this goodness and love are so entirely and uniquely palpable in this time and in this place.
For me, God’s grace was glimpsed in the renewal of vows at Cana and the manifold ways in which individuals have concretely responded to God’s call in their own lives. It was absolute gift to witness the faithfulness reflected in the lives and commitments of my fellow pilgrims.
God’s grace was evidenced in our to visit the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth and, while there, in the opportunity to hold my own loved ones in prayer. The prayer was a necessary reminder of my need to praise God more frequently for the miracle of these precious people in my life and to seek God’s intercession more readily for healing of the ways in which we are each broken and suffer.
And, God’s grace was so clearly apparent at the site of the Annunciation, the place of Mary’s “yes,” the place in which the the Word became flesh.
In praying over the scripture passage of the miracle at Cana, I was struck by the reality that the choicest wines were served last. I can’t even fathom wines more choice than the graces already received in two short days. And yet I trust with each of us, not only on this pilgrimage but in all of life: the best is yet to come. I pray that we may be forever attuned to a God that in all times and in all places seeks to make God’s goodness known and who labors to lavish us with love beyond measure. May we receive it with open hearts and respond freely with our “yes” to its invitations.