3/12/2011—Just in time for lent, the Catholic Church has released Pope Benedict’s new book, Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week; From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. This volume is part two to Benedict’s earlier treatment of Jesus’ life and teaching in general in 2008.
This book is a really shocking introduction to Christian life and belief for those who don’t know Christianity, or who think they know it but don’t. The shock is how vivid and wonderful Benedict’s description of Christian life is. Even I am tempted to become a Catholic.
Here is the flavor of the book from pages 82-83. The context is Jesus so-called High Priestly Prayer from the Gospel of John, chapter 17. Benedict is describing the “eternal life” that Jesus gives.
“‘Eternal life’ is not—as the modern reader might immediately assume—life after death, in contrast to this present life, which is transient and not eternal. ‘Eternal life’ is life itself, real life, which can also be lived in the present age and is no longer challenged by physical death. This is the point: to seize ‘life’ here and now, real life that can no longer be destroyed by anything or anyone.
[A] distinguishing feature of the disciple of Jesus is the fact that he ‘lives’: beyond the mere fact of existing, he has found and embraced the real life that everyone is seeking. On the basis of such texts, the early Christians called themselves simply ‘the living’ (hoi zontes). They had found what all are seeking—life itself, full and, hence, indestructible life.”
Now, aside from how one can live this way, can we not all agree with Benedict that this in fact is our goal—all of us? And if this is our goal, how is it that we needed Benedict and his reading of the Gospel to remind us? There must be some truth to it.