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The announcement of the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI is a sad day for the Catholic Church and Christian community. It is a time for grasping the extraordinary service of this Pope through a legacy that restores our understanding of Jesus. A respected author who has published more than fifty books, DVD’s and excerpts of his work, Pope Benedict combines the inquiring mind of a respected theologian with the heart of a pastor and the communication skills of an artful teacher. These qualities allow us to learn anew who Jesus was, as Pope Benedict draws us back to Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection in a series of three books published between 2007 and 2012.
Jesus of Nazareth, the first in the series, is described by Pope Benedict as his “personal search for the face of the Lord.” Exquisitely written, the book covers Jesus life from the Baptism in the Jordan to the unfolding of events surrounding his crucifixion. Specific bible references add depth to the presentation, giving us a sense of destiny at work.
The foreword of Jesus of Nazareth tells us that the book “sees Jesus in light of his communion with the Father, which is the true center of his personality; without it, we cannot understand him at all, and it is from this center that he makes himself present to us still today.”
Holy Week: The Entrance Into Jerusalem To the Resurrection
This second book in the series describes the core of Christianity: the passion of Christ and the events preceeding his crucifixion.
Of this book, Pope Benedict tells us “Only in this second volume do we encounter the decisive sayings and events of Jesus’ life….I…hope that I have been granted an insight into the figure of Our Lord that can be helpful to all readers who seek to encounter Jesus and to believe in him.”
The Infancy Narrative
Reserved as the third book in the series, The Infancy Narrative introduces Jesus from birth to his appearance in the temple of Jerusalem at the age of twelve. A sparkling gem, the book views these years with a loving heart and presents a narrative for today and years to come. Pope Benedict describes it as “a kind of small ‘antechamber’ to the two earlier volumes.” He further tells us that he has “set out here, in dialogue with exegetes past and present, to interpret what the apostles Matthew and Luke say about Jesus’ infancy at the beginning of their Gospels.”
As the other books, The InfancyNarrative is touched by the heart of a pastor who is first and foremost the shepherd of a flock.
How fitting it is that the Pope chose this holy season of the Lent to move toward his retirement.
P.S. This is the first of two articles on this series of books. We will focus next on Jesus Declares His Identify.