Grace: To grow in an interior knowledge of Christ’s example in Nazareth so as to live my life as he lived his.
Reading: Luke 2:51-52
Reflection: I doubt few Israelites in Jesus’ time were packing the family station wagons and heading up to Nazareth for their annual summer vacation. Most biblical scholars consider Jesus’ Nazareth to have been a boring, unspectacular kind of place. The powerful elite of Jerusalem probably considered it to be, at best, a forgotten roadside town.
Jesus is probably the one and only reason why Nazareth ever made it on the map and in the history books (and that’s a pretty good reason). It was in the quiet little Nazareth town that Jesus began to know his Father face-to-face. In the ordinary days’ routines, day by day, week by week, year by year, he came to a radical relationship with God the Father. Pope Benedict writes about Jesus saying, “He lives before the face of God, not just as a friend, but as a Son; he lives in the most intimate unity with the Father.” Jesus didn’t become this way in a vacuum, but in the dusty, forgotten village of Nazareth: sleeping under the roof of Mary and Joseph, sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast, standing at the lathe carving out a piece of furniture, reading and praying at the local synagogue. And so it was in this little town that Christ the King (like David, Moses and so many of the prophets before him) came from such a humble beginning.
The Kingdom of God sprouts from the most poor, humble, ordinary of seeds (i.e., a place like Nazareth). The Christian faith often speaks of Jesus as “Christ the King, robed in majesty.” If he is at all a “king robed in majesty,” he is a loving king of poor subjects, robed in obedience to the will of God the Father. Christ the King is as meek as the town that reared him. He is a King not of pretense but of quiet prayer, not of ostentation but of dedicated service, not of extravagance but of humble generosity.
I cannot help bust ask myself, is it that way for me? Have I forgotten my own “Nazareth?” We all live in a loud, fast-paced world that is filled with deadlines and expectations. Far too often I get distracted from prayer and quiet reflection; far too often I turn my gaze from Christ our King toward anything flashier or louder.
Once out from Nazareth and on mission to Jerusalem, Christ’s continuous zeal for His Father’s Kingdom and his love for the poorest of humanity must have come to him during the quietest hours of his day when, in prayer and solitude, he returned to his upbringing in Nazareth: Who am I? The beloved Son of God. What am I about? Bringing the Kingdom to fulfillment. How do I do that? Love, Mercy, and Grace, as I have learned from the time of my birth.
As followers of Jesus, we must imitate Jesus. We must find a place and time of quiet and solitude in our busy days, for only then can we grow in a life-giving intimate relationship with God. We must recall in prayer and reflection our adoption into the Kingdom of God along with the grace and service that comes with that adoption. In doing so, may we too grow as Jesus did in “wisdom and age and favor before God and Man.”