Nazareth weekend with Little Brother Marc

It is interesting to note how the Gospel of John (which people say is more “contemplative”) stresses the theme of Nazareth. At the beginning we find the question,

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth? ” (John 1:46).
At the end, in the writing above the cross, Pilate says ironically,
“Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews” (John 19:19).
All that seems to support the sceptics. However, in the likeness of a gardener, Mary recognised the voice of the Master; in the unknown man beside the lake, the beloved disciple recognised the Lord. This is not a revenge, nor the end of a parenthesis: the Master and Lord had not taken on the likeness of a great person which he might have been hiding until then. He remained Jesus of Nazareth, he still needed to be found in his ordinary form, by those that are his own:
“You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; he is risen, he is not here [...] He has gone before you ... into Galilee, that is where you will see him” (Mark 16:6).

I do not know if you have the same reaction, but for me this reading of the Gospel fills me with wonder. And I feel “at home” in these texts, not only because they show me the face of Jesus, but also because behind each scene, behind each attitude Jesus has, I could put the names of people who, by their behaviour or reactions, have helped me to understand the word of God and decipher its mystery.

I will add one more thing: that Jesus having taken on this face, and having been formed in this school, is also a revelation of the mystery of God. We often say, in pious words11, that at Nazareth God hid his divinity. But it is exactly the contrary: at Nazareth, God revealed his true face as God! When God wants to tell us who he truly is, he takes the face of a simple man of Nazareth, this village unknown in the Bible, in a peripheral region, distanced from the Temple and the religious centres, far from Judea and the circles of power, “crossroads of the pagan nations” and contaminated by them. It is as if to say to us: Every discourse in religions and theologies has presented me as the Most High, the Wholly Other, the All-powerful, the Absolute, the Separated One, etc. But these terms are only true if you agree to empty them of their usual meaning! And you would be closer to my reality – which, in any case, no words can translate – if you were to call me also the Most Low, the Wholly Close, the One who involves himself with you, the Servant. We have an unambiguous confirmation when Jesus affirms very clearly:

“You call me Master and Lord, and rightly, for so I am; but I am a master and lord who washes your feet; and if you want to be mine, you also must act in the same way as me.” (cf John 13:13f).