At the heart of the Church, Nazareth!

We are called, together, to let the Nazarene face of the Church show through.

"The Church cannot grow or prosper if we let it ignore that its roots are hidden in the atmosphere of Nazareth", Joseph Ratzinger told us (in The God of Jesus Christ, Communio-Fayard, 1977. p.77-80), well before becoming Pope, and notes, that "at the moment when sentimentalism around Nazareth was flourishing, the true mystery of Nazareth was discovered in a new way, in its deepest sense, without his contemporaries noticing" by Charles de Foucauld. This man, he wrote, by tracing the steps of the "mysteries of the life of Jesus", by entering into the experience of Nazareth, learned more about it than all the theologians and scholars put together. "One understands so well that it is a piece of bread when one knows through experience how hard it has been to make it.", Brother Charles wrote to his sister from the Trappist monastery in Akbes.

And Ratzinger continues: “There, in a living meditation on Jesus, a new way was opened thereby for the Church. It was for the Church a rediscovery of poverty. Nazareth has a permanent message for the Church. The New Alliance does not start in the Temple, nor on the Holy Mountain, but in the little home of the Virgin, in the house of the worker, in one of the forgotten places of the 'Galilee of peasants', from where nobody expected anything good. It is only by starting out from there that the Church can have a new beginning and be healed. It can never provide a true response to the revolt of our century against the power of the wealthy, if, at its own heart, Nazareth is not a reality, which is lived.”

What a wonderful blueprint for life! There is our mission as the Church has recognized it, authenticated it, and entrusted it to us : to participate in the Nazarene face of the Church so that the Good News of the Kingdom can be lived and radiated amongst the lowliest people: “The poor will eat and will be satisfied”. Yes, let the poor be filled and let them rejoice!

Three Nazarene icons:
I would like to share with you, among so many others, three icons which can help us to light up the Nazarene face of the Church which, I think, many of us love to contemplate like precious pearls in our lives as Little Brothers of Jesus:

the Visitation; contemporary Indian artthe Visitation; contemporary Indian artThe Visitation, so dear to Charles de Foucauld: with Mary, here we are on the way to meet someone else, to put ourselves off centre, to share the joys and the woes, to put ourselves in service, to live out a relationship with someone else along with its consequences which can disturb us and cause us to leave our little customs because we are tied to him, and these links of solidarity and shared responsibility woven between us, make us see, in the face of the other, our brother or our sister.

The Nativity, which was also dear to our brother Charles: the Good News of a little newborn in a manger, announced to the simplest people and to those who were excluded: “A Saviour has been born for you!” a Christmas crib, in South Americaa Christmas crib, in South America It is up to us to know how to welcome this powerless child, the revelation of the Face of God who is everything to everyone, weak and fragile in our hands, offered to us in confidence.

The washing of the feet: the most humble service, shared amongst the slaves, a sign of the deepest love! Like St. John and St. John Chrysostom, Charles too was greatly moved by this love of brother paralleled with the sacrament of the Eucharist: "He showed them the full extent of his love" (John 13:1), going so far as to give his life for us. The sacrament of the brother and the sacrament of the Eucharist are signs of this same reality, one calling the other. the washing of the feet, by S.Koderthe washing of the feet, by S.Koder As Charles wrote, "It is Jesus who said, 'Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do it to me' and 'This is my body'." We are invited to live joyfully with this passionate love for Jesus and for all those whose destiny he has called us to share, and which characterized Charles de Foucauld. "He has made religion all about love!" Father Huvelin said of Brother Charles.

These are three icons of the Good News announced to the little ones, in joy, discretion and simplicity, in humility, service and the gift of self. They invite us in Jesus the servant, Jesus the child, in the invisible presence of Jesus, to the heart of his intimate, loving relationship with the Father and with all people. Isn't the heart of our faith to "believe in love through the face and voice of this love, Jesus Christ"? And since the Nazarene is the Risen One, he continues to live through his Spirit of love in each of us who believe in the heart of the world that God loves (cf. Psalm 84).