Benedict XVI’s recently released book, Jesus of Nazareth is a must read Catholic best-seller. Admittedly the book is not one you would expect as a beach reading, (unless you were me), it really deserves attention as contemporary spiritual reading for Catholics. I would never presume to review the writings of Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. His theological expertise and astute appreciation of Catholic theological teachings are perhaps the quintessential interpretations of scriptural and sacramental theology in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council. However his book Jesus of Nazareth offers a more individual contemplation and search for an understanding of the Divine and Human person of Jesus Christ from a personal faith relationship. By his own admission, this book is not a theological expose of Christological theology, but rather the chronicles of a personal journey to find and establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Benedict’s book really offers fellow believers the insight of not only an eminent theologian, but the insights of a man committed by Catholic Baptism to a perpetual desire to form a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, Man and God. The exegetical materials of the book provide the everyday Catholic with not only spiritual points for philosophical and personal contemplation, but tangible examples of how the person of Jesus Christ has touched and transformed all of human history and continues to do so this very day. For the most part, Benedict’s writings on Jesus of Nazareth give us the unique opportunity to develop an individually unique personal relationship with Jesus, and at the same time provide a relationship with other believers and the common aspirations of all humanity.
What is most compelling about the book is the simplicity with which Benedict XVI combines sacramental theology with personal insights of faith in the spirit of prayer.
Spiritual reading for the most part is not a common activity among modern Catholics. It should be. Benedict’s book is a great primer for Catholics of all levels of educational and faith experiences to begin to establish a prayerful and sacred relationship with Jesus Christ, His Church and His Sacraments.