After months of waiting, Pope Benedict's third and final installment of his work Jesus of Nazareth, has been published. The third volume deals with the Lord's infancy, a most fitting work for the time of year. It will be good Advent/Christmas reading.
The book is comprised of four chapters, preceded by a foreword and completed with a epilogue. The first chapter looks at the Genealogies, which are actually fascinating reading and a reminder of the mystery of the Incarnation. We might have issues with members of our families, and those of you who are doing family histories may be appalled at the skeletons in the closet, but all our strange relations fade into insignificance when it comes to some of the creatures in the Lord's human ancestry. The second chapter looks at the Annunciation.
The third reflects on the Nativity and the poverty which marked Our Lord's birth. Some of the news features have homed in on the Pope's point that there were probably no animals in the stable as Jesus was born. Well that's just common sense. What woman wants to give birth to her baby with a donkey looking over her shoulder and a half-curious ox chewing the cud? It looks lovely in the crib, but in reality it would not have been safe or healthy.
The final chapter deals with the Magi. While the Holy Father reflects on the theological significance of the wise men, he is inclined to believe that they were real people. I would expect that from a German Catholic given that the shrine of the Magi is in Cologne - and when you have seen the devotion to the Magi there, you are inclined to believe they existed. I'm with the Pope on that one.
The Epilogue looks at the finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.