L’Osservatore Romano has published the foreward and two excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s forthcoming book on the childhood of Jesus, slated to be published in Italy before Christmas. L’OR reports that negotiations are underway for the publication rights in 32 other countries.
From the Holy Father’s foreward to the book, dated August 15, 2012, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary:
I can at last consign to the reader the long promised little book on the narratives of Jesus’ childhood. It is not a third volume but a sort of small “antechamber” to the two preceding volumes on the future and message of Jesus of Nazareth. Here I have sought to interpret, in dialogue with exegetes of the past and of the present, what Matthew and Luke recount at the beginning of their Gospels about the infancy of Jesus. … I hope that my little book, despite its limitations, will be able to help many people on their way towards and with Jesus.
L’OR also includes two brief excerpts from the Pope’s manuscript (below are excerpts of the excerpts):
Jesus was not born and appearing in public at some indefinite “once upon a time” like legends. He belongs to an historically precise time and an exact geographical location: here the universal and the concrete come together. In him, the Logos, the creative Reason for everything, came into the world. The eternal Logos became a man, and this means he took on the context of time and space. Faith is tied to this concrete reality…
Mary wrapped the Child in swaddling clothes. With no sentimentalism, we can imagine how lovingly Mary would have awaited her time and prepared for her Son’s birth. The iconographical tradition, on the basis of the theology of the Fathers, has also provided a theological interpretation of the manger and the swaddling clothes. … Augustine interpreted the significance of the manger with a thought that at first sight seems almost incongruous, but, instead, on closer examination contains a profound truth. The manger is the place in which animals find their food. Now, however, lying in the manger is the One who indicated himself as the true Bread come down from heaven – the true nourishment man needs in order to be a human person.