JESUS OF NAZARETH
St Bonaventure once wrote that the fruit of holy scripture is not simply any kind of fruit. In scripture, he said, are the words of eternal life. The fruit of holy scripture is the fullness of eternal happiness. This is the end and this is the intention with which holy scripture should be studied, taught and even heard. Understanding the whole of scripture flows as from its source, from the knowledge of Jesus Christ, a source attributable to divine revelation which flows from the 'father of lights'.
In our own time, Pope Benedict XVI, in the post-synodal exhortation on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, expressed a “hope for the flowering of “a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus” (n.72). In the foreword to his book Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict wrote that while it is good to ask what the respective authors of the Bible intended to convey through their text in their own day (the historical components), it is not sufficient to leave the text in the past and "thus relegate it to history". Good explanations and interpretations will pose the questions: Is what I read here true? Does it concern me? If so, how? Finding answers to these questions does not diminish the historical quest, on the contrary, it is enhanced, the Pope wrote. It is his hope that this approach to rediscovering the Word of God can be a help to many people on their path toward and alongside Jesus. Pope Benedict writes that in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples:"Who do people say that I am?....Who do you say that I am?" (Mk 8:27). Pope Benedict asks, "Who is Jesus? Where is he from? The two questions, he proposes, are inseparably linked.
The four Gospels set out to answer these questions, they were written in order to supply an answer, Pope Benedict explained. While Matthew and Luke provide different genealogies at the beginning of their Gospels, John does not. In St John's Prologue, "he grandly and emphatically proposes an answer to that question". "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.....and the Word became flesh and dwelt (pitched his tent) among us" (Jn 1:1-14). "The man Jesus is the dwelling place of the Word, the eternal divine Word, in this world. Jesus' "flesh", his human existence, is the "dwelling" or "tent" of the Word: the reference to the sacred tent of Israel in the wilderness is unmistakable", the Pope wrote. "Jesus is, so to speak, the tent of meeting." (Ch. 1 Jesus of Nazareth, the Infancy Narratives). "Jesus' origin is the true "beginning" - the primordial source from which all things come, the "light" that makes the world into the cosmos. He comes from God. He is God. This "beginning" that has come to us opens up - as a beginning - a new manner of human existence, "For to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God" (Jn 1:12). John sums up the deepest meaning of the genealogies, and moreover he has taught us to understand them as an interpretation of our own origin, our true "genealogy", - our true "genealogy" is faith in Jesus, who gives us a new origin, who brings us to birth "from God"".
To each and every one belongs the task of rediscovery, to answer the question "Who do you say that I am?" and in so doing we discover who we are.
The Gospel according to St Matthew is divided into five books each consisting of a discourse introduced and led up to by selected narrative matter; these five books, plus the stories of the Infancy and of the Passion are combined to form a well-knit whole of seven sections.
St Luke set to work in his own way with an eye to exact information and orderly narrative (1:3), but respect for his sources, together with his method of juxtaposing them, meant that even Luke was not in a position to arrange his traditional material in a more chronological way than Matthew or Mark.
The plan Mark follows in the Gospel according to St Mark is the least systematic of all the Synoptics. The preaching of John the Baptist plus the baptism and temptation of Jesus make up his prelude (1:1-13); next comes a period of ministry which according to occasional hints was in Galilee (1:1-7:23),
In the Gospel according to St John, the last verse before the Appendix specifies the book's literary form. It is a 'gospel' - it proclaims that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God, and its teaching, based on the 'signs' that Jesus gave, aims at bringing men to believe in the Messiah and so to attain life.