NOBILITY? In Nazareth? Years before
Nathaniel asked his famous question, Can anything good come out
of Nazareth? even the local residents would have to admit that
their remote, hillside town was one of the last places where the
noble ones of the earth would reside. Or, was it?
The more astute among the Nazarenes could detect something
in the little shop where Joseph plied the carpenter's trade with his
son, Jesus. The quiet self-possession, calm dignity and serene
warmth of Joseph and Jesus gave to their work and their daily
encounters with customers and neighbors something hard to
describe. It would have been, for those folk in Nazareth, even
harder to believe that in their midst labored the King of the
universe and that Joseph who taught Christ to labor was sharing
in His NOBILITY.
NOBILITY? In Assisi? Everyone there knew of the
emperor, his armies and his legates. Most had caught at least a
glimpse of kings and princes passing by with their retinues,
well-armed, well-fed and well-dressed. Who would have dreamed that
in the leprosarium outside the city walls an even truer
NOBILITY could be found? There, barefoot men in ragged
habits, led by a Little Poor Man with a heart burning with love of
God, tended medieval society's outcasts with a quiet dignity that
shed a whole new light on Jesus' words: What you did to the
least of my brothers, you did to me.
NOBILITY? Here and now? The monarchies of old
and the royalty of the present age still hold a certain fascination
for most people. The old adage, noblesse oblige — nobility
obliges — retains its force as today's kings and queens go to
great lengths to observe the proper decorum for life according to
their station. But this kind of NOBILITY is far
beyond the reach of most of the human family. Yet, there is a
NOBILITY which transcends ties of blood or earthly
kingdoms. It is the NOBILITY which God conferred on
us when He created us in His image and likeness.
NOBILITY conferred is NOBILITY
to be cultivated. Holy Baptism obliges us to live as beloved
children of God, the Most High King of heaven. It invites us to take
daily possession of our heritage as heirs and kings, heiresses
and queens of the Kingdom of heaven. And it bids us to do so by
looking long and often at the Incarnate Son of God. Jesus'
NOBILITY is not like the NOBILITY of
earthly kings. In His realm, the greatest are the ones who serve,
the last are the first, the humble are exalted, the poor and the
persecuted enjoy their royal inheritance now.
Once St. Francis understood the paradoxical nature of Gospel
NOBILITY, he could respond to the demands of
Christ's kingship with a joyful ardor that soon attracted of host of
followers, No longer was the law of love something imposed on him
from without. To live by love was the deepest need of his heart, a
response to the God who loved, made and saved him.
It is the same for us. The more we are aware of the favor shown to
us and the royal dignity conferred on us in Baptism, the more we can
live in a manner worthy of our calling. Knowing who we are and
where we are going, we conduct ourselves as Jesus did, with quiet
self-possession and humble serenity. Our actions show forth the
beauty and decorum which distinguish us as members of a
NOBLE RACE, striving for the holiness which befits the
house of God and which delights the King who lives there.