In this the third volume of his reflections on the Gospel narratives, the Holy Father offers readers his reflections on the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. While he is aware of the questions raised by modern biblical criticism, he engages them thoroughly without being beholden to their method or their results. Theology and history are here seen as allies rather than adversaries. Pope Benedict XVI serenely and meditatively guides his readers through the texts, locating them within the wider sweep of biblical theology and the Church’s tradition, and showing the riches that they contain for contemporary believers. In these stories of the Holy Family, present day Christians can find inspiration for their own families.
In these mediations, at once light-hearted and profound, the reader is afforded the opportunity to hear Benedict’s own voice making very direct and personal comments on issues of today. The haste of the shepherds he sees as an encouragement to present day believers to hasten toward the things of God (p. 79). In the failure of the chief priests and scribes to act on their own counsel to the Magi and to Herod, the Holy Father offers a tongue in cheek observation relevant to contemporary academic theology which fails to move its practitioners to action: “does this, perhaps, furnish us with the image of a theology that exhausts itself in academic disputes?” (p. 105). On a very personal note we hear the pope speak not just as scholar and the Church universal pastor, but as a believer. Noting the view of the great French biblical scholar Jean Daniélou, S.J. that the Gospels offer historical events whose theological significance was worked out by the early Christian community, he observes: “To put it simply, I share this view” (p.118).
Along with the Resurrection and the miracle stories, the infancy narratives have been subjected to widespread critical scrutiny and doubt on the part of skeptical modern scholarship. In reclaiming them for the faith and life of the Church in this final volume, the service provided here by the Holy Father evokes the appreciative words of the headwaiter of the wedding feast of Cana to the bridegroom, “you have kept the good wine until now” (Jn. 2:10).
John & Claire Grabowski - Member Couple - USA