Volume 2 of "Jesus of Nazareth" Is Dense, Worthwhile

Jesus before Pilate

When Pontius Pilate presented Jesus to the people with the enigmatic words "Ecce homo" the expression spontaneously takes on a depth of meaning that reaches far beyond this moment in history.

"In Jesus," the Pope writes, "it is man himself that is manifested. In him is displayed the suffering of all who are subjected to violence, all the downtrodden. His suffering mirrors the inhumanity of worldly power, which so ruthlessly crushes the powerless.

"In him is reflected what we call 'sin': this is what happens when man turns his back upon God and takes control over the world into his own hands."

Epilogue: Ascension into heaven

Some of the very striking aspects of this book are when Benedict XVI 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 continues: "This is an image for the time of the Church -- intended also for us. The Lord is 'on the mountain' of the Father. Therefore he sees us. Therefore he can get into the boat of our life at any moment. Therefore we can always call on him; we can always be certain that he sees and hears us.

"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 Benedict XVI.

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Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, chief executive officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network in Canada, is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He can be reached at:

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