The Nazareth School
Sebastian Vazhakala, MC*
Christmas and the revolution of Love
It was in Nazareth where eternity merged with time; it was here where heaven and earth met in the Virgin of Nazareth through her unconditional response. It was here where the all powerful Word leaped down from the Royal Throne into the virginal womb of a village girl betrothed to a man named Joseph; and the Virgin's name was Mary (cf. Wis 18:15; Lk 1:26 ff.).
It was at the Grotto of the Annunciation of our Lord where the Virgin of Nazareth said her unconditional 'Yes': "Let it be done to me as you say". Our Lady has been to her cousin Elisabeth, to Cana in Galilee, on Calvary, in the Upper Room with the Apostles. Although she is the same person, Our Lady of Nazareth is very unique and special. It is here she accepted God's will without reservations, in the purity of faith and in blind trust. Her future was in God's hands. Here we see her example of unconditional surrender and trust. She not only became the Mother of God by accepting the will of God, but also became, in and through her unconditional surrender to the divine will, the Mother of mankind. The Church then, continues to sing her song of praise and thanksgiving — the Magnificat. In it she recognizes her littleness and at the same time the greatness of the Almighty: "He looked with favour on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed". (Lk 1:48). The very same song speaks of the threefold revolutions:
— God scatters the proud-hearted but exalts the lowly.
— God casts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly
— God sends the rich away empty and fills the hungry with good things
This then is the revolution of love. The poor of Yahweh find comfort and consolation in him "for God hears the cry of the poor as he listens to their pleas...".
The secret of the greatness of a person consists in his awareness and realization that he entirely depends on God, that his very being and actions are the gifts of God, that without him he or she can do nothing. It is very important for us to know all the more that our greatness consists in our humility, in our absolute and unconditional dependence on God.
One comes here to exclaim like and with the great Apostle of the Gentiles: "I am what I am by the grace of God" (1 Cor 15:10). Elsewhere the same Apostle says very clearly and in all humility: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13). Mary's life was the same, which she expressed at the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee when she said to the servants: "Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you" (Jn 2:5). According to the New Testament account, this was the last time Mary spoke. It was as if she was speaking not only to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana, but alsoto all generations to come. It is the duty of everyone who follows Jesus to do whatever he tells him or her, and if we continue to do so our own eyes will see many miracles taking place, and we will be richly blessed and immensely happy. The Nazareth spirituality consists then in doing God's will, as was done by Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta wrote in 1984: "Do not be afraid nor give into thoughts of fear. Jesus had to spend 30 years in the silence of Nazareth before he could fulfil the reason for which he had come to redeem the world". During his discourse in Nazareth, on 5 January 1964, Pope Paul VI said: "Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ's life was like and even to understand His Gospel. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of His Gospel".
Nazareth is the home and school of the Contemplatives as it teaches us the importance of profound and positive silence. "If only we could once again appreciate its great value. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and in quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God's inner wisdom. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only by God" (Pope Paul VI).
Nazareth stands as a model of what the family should be. It shows us the family's holy and enduring character and exemplifies its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, the perfect setting for rearing children. Nazareth teaches us the value of work and its dignity; how we must work hard for God's glory and the spread of His Kingdom; "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Col 3:17).
It is not the number of persons in a community that make the community or the family peaceful and happy, but how united they are and how they love one another. The Holy family never wasted their time in arguing, shouting or fighting or judging. They did not waste their time in finding the faults of others or spending time in criticising or in idle gossip. They lived to love and they loved to live.
They did ordinary things with extraordinary love for the glory of God. We can save a lot more time if we avoid being negative; we can do a lot more good if we do not waste time unnecessarily in the affairs of others; thus our communities and families can be much happier. Mary and Joseph lived with Jesus; Nazareth life was simply that, to live with Jesus all the time.
In conclusion let us once again return to Pope Paul VI's words of wisdom, namely: "How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God's truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospels, for that education is never finished" (Nazareth, 5 January 1964).
Let us be students and disciples of the Nazareth school of humility and charity, perfect love of God and one's neighbour, of forgiveness and mutual acceptance, of self-denial and sacrifices, of perfect acceptance of the will of God, of the virtues of faith, hope and charity, prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance; of infinite and intense thirst for the salvation of souls... God bless you.
*Cofounder with Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity — Contemplative Brothers and Priests
Weekly Edition in English
28 December 2011, page 14
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