Nazareth weekend with Little Brother Marc

5- One of the best-known texts about Nazareth by Charles de Foucauld was written a year later, when he had moved into Tamanrasset:

“Jesus has established you forever in the life of Nazareth: the lives of missions and solitude are only, for you as for him, exceptions: practise them each time that His will clearly indicates them; as soon as they are no longer indicated, return to the life of Nazareth. Desire the establishment of the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Follow the rule as one follows a directory without making it a strict duty for yourself, and only in what is not contrary to the life of Nazareth; (either when you are on your own, or when with a few Brothers, until there is really a possibility of leading perfectly the life of a Little Brother or Little Sister in a Nazareth that has enclosure) take as an objective the life of Nazareth, in everything and for everything, in its simplicity and breadth [...]: for example, until the Little Brothers and Little Sisters are duly established, no habit – like Jesus at Nazareth; no enclosure – like Jesus at Nazareth; no habitation far from every inhabited place, but close to a village – like Jesus at Nazareth; no less than 8 hours of work a day (manual or other; manual as much as possible) – like Jesus at Nazareth; no large lands, no large habitation, no large expenses, and even no large almsgiving, but extreme poverty in everything – like Jesus at Nazareth... In a word, in everything: Jesus at Nazareth [...] Your life of Nazareth can be led anywhere: lead it in the place that is most useful for your neighbour.”8

I find that this text gives a lot of clarification. This is still a new reading of “the Nazareth of Jesus”. But "Nazareth" serves to designate two very distinct forms of life: a monastic religious community (“a Nazareth that has enclosure”) and, while waiting for it to be possible, a life (“the life of Nazareth”)directly in reference to the life of Jesus at Nazareth (“like Jesus at Nazareth”). While the first will be marked by separation ("enclosure"), the second is wholly characterised by what will make possible a proximity to the ordinary life of people. To describe this proximity, Charles de Foucauld indicates a cluster of examples that complement one another and form a whole. It is remarkable, also, that these elements that Charles emphasises and which he says are “like Jesus at Nazareth” are the exact opposite of the elements of the monastic life that he “wishes to establish”: no habit, no enclosure, no isolation, the working day, no lands or large buildings, limited expenses and even alms at a normal level (with even the curious remark that certain elements of the rule for the Little brothers and sisters of the Sacred Heart, a monastic project, might be contrary to the life of Nazareth!...).

“Take as an objective the life of Nazareth, in everything and for everything, in its simplicity and breadth [....] In a word, in everything: Jesus at Nazareth”.

Now that he knows how to keep his heart in God while being with people, and now that he is adopting a lifestyle similar to that of ordinary people, Nazareth is no longer a closed model; on the contrary, the meditation ends with openness to various realisations:
“Your life of Nazareth can be led anywhere: lead it in the place that is most useful for your neighbour”.
This last element clearly shows what is at stake: through our proximity, if we are united to God, the good news of the God who is close is proclaimed to the poor and this is his true good.