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Posted November 29, 2006

From the Introduction of Benedict XVI's New Book

"A First Glance at the Secret of Jesus"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2006 .- Here is a translation of excerpts from the Introduction of the book "Jesus of Nazareth," which Benedict XVI will publish next spring.


A First Glance at the Secret of Jesus

(...) In Jesus the promise of the new prophet is fulfilled. In him is fully realized what in Moses was only imperfect: He lives in the presence of God, not only as friend but as Son, in profound unity with the Father. Only beginning from here can we really understand the figure of Jesus that we find in the New Testament. All that which is recounted, the words, facts, suffering and glory of Jesus has its foundation here. If this authentic center is disregarded, one does not grasp what is specific to the figure of Jesus which then becomes contradictory and, in short, incomprehensible. Only from here can the question be answered before which whoever reads the New Testament must place himself: from where did Jesus get his teaching? How is his coming explained? The reaction of his listeners was clear: His teaching does not come from some school. It is radically different from that which can be learned in schools. It is not explained according to the method of interpretation, it is different, it is explanation "with authority." We will return to this verification of the listeners when we reflect on the words of Jesus and we will have to examine its meaning closely. The teaching of Jesus does not come from human learning, no matter what it is. It comes from the immediate contact with the Father, from "face-to-face" dialogue, from seeing that which is "in the bosom of the Father." It is word of the Son. Without this interior foundation it would be temerity. He was judged precisely in this way by the learned of his time because, in fact, they did not want to accept its interior meaning: seeing and knowing face-to-face.

Fundamental to know Jesus are the recurring references to the fact that he would withdraw "on the mountain" and prayed there all night, "alone" with the Father. These brief references dispel somewhat the veil of the mystery, allowing us to cast a glance at Jesus' filial existence, to perceive the springing source of his actions, of his teaching and of his suffering. This "praying" of Jesus is the Son speaking with the Father in which the human conscience and will, the human soul of Jesus are involved, so that the "prayer" of men might become participation in the communion of the Son with the Father. Harnack's famous affirmation according to which the proclamation of Jesus is a proclamation that comes from the Father and of which the Son is not a part -- and therefore Christology does not belong to the proclamation of Jesus -- is a thesis that denies itself. Jesus can speak of the Father, as he does, only because he is Son and lives in filial communion with the Father. The Christological dimension, namely the mystery of the Son who reveals the Father, "Christology," is present in all the discourses and all the actions of Jesus. Here another important point is evident. We said that in the filial communion of Jesus with the Father the human soul of Jesus is involved in the act of prayer. Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (John 14:9). The disciple who follows Jesus thus comes to be involved together with him in the communion with God. And it is this that truly saves: the exceeding of man's limits. This exceeding was innate in man as expectation and possibility since the creation given the likeness with God.