God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven begins in the heart as a little house of Nazareth
By Bishop Richard F. Stika
Culture of rejecting the ordinary. Of the many saints the Church recommends as special helpers and intercessors with God, there is one who is particularly needed today—“the saint of the ordinary”— St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei (“Work of God”).
And this is because for too many, the word “ordinary” has come to mean something almost negative, mundane, or akin to mediocrity; as something confining and limiting that must be escaped from. And yet, nothing is more tailored specifically by God for our spiritual growth and sanctity as the ordinary aspects and events of our life.
As St. Josemaría Escrivá stressed, “Either we learn to find the Lord in the ordinary everyday life or else we shall never find Him.” And when we let the Divine Will reign in the ordinary aspects of our life, we become a little house of Nazareth.
Discounting the ordinary. Very little is revealed in the Gospels about the so-called “hidden life” of Jesus in Nazareth. So seemingly unremarkable were His days and years living in Nazareth before He began His public ministry, that when Jesus returned to preach the Gospel to them, He was rejected because there was nothing extraordinary about Him that they could recall—they could not fathom how the kingdom of God could be reigning in the ordinariness of this “Nazorean” of seemingly lowly origins, much less in each of their own lives (Luke 2: 51; cf. Matthew 13:54-58).
But that is how God works with us—in the ordinariness of our life. To allow, then, our heart to become a “little house of Nazareth” is to allow God to transform the ordinary aspects of our life into the extraordinary, investing it with the divine.
Extraordinary in the ordinary. These hidden years of Jesus with Mary and St. Joseph were not empty, meaningless days, as if they were some sort of long, but necessary, interlude between His birth and His public ministry, passion, and cross.
Christ wanted to repair, requite, and reorder for every aspect of our fallen lives. As expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life” (n. 533). Though we may feel almost invisible in the sight of others, and the ordinariness of our day-to-day life meaningless, the little house of Nazareth teaches us otherwise.
It invites each of us to become like a little child so that God can form His kingdom in us, and reign in all the ordinariness of our life (cf. Matthew 18:3).
Hidden in the ordinary. What was the Holy Family’s life like in Nazareth? Though those many years are referred to as “hidden,” I like to think that the Holy Family’s life was merely hidden within the “ordinariness” of their lives.
Certainly, there were the general day-to-day routines we all have—getting ready for our day after awakening, praying, preparing meals, shopping for food and necessities, work, cleaning, laundering, resting, sleeping—as well as the sufferings, trials, and difficulties none of us are immune from. But there was also a special love of silence that we must also seek to preserve within our heart and lives if the mystery of grace—God’s life in us—is to grow and invest and enliven the ordinary with the divine.
Ask St. Joseph for this most necessary gift of silence and a listening heart.
God’s holy land. Jesus tells us that “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Though more popularly translated as “among you,” the more accurate translation is “within you,” as many biblical scholars tell us. And this is important, for each of us is God’s “holy land,” and He wants to make our heart a most intimate garden of communion with Him. Let it be a garden home of the Holy Family!
Becoming eucharistic. Consider this—the greatest example of the extraordinary in the ordinary is the Eucharist! Under the ordinary appearances of bread and wine, following the consecration prayers of the Mass, Christ is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
And in receiving Him in holy Communion in a state of grace and living our Mass throughout the day and week, we bring the extraordinary—Christ Jesus—into the ordinariness of our life and encounter with others. This is why we must let the Divine Will reign in our hearts as a little Nazareth.
No matter our vocation, whether in marriage, the single state, priesthood, or religious, we are all called to be an ambassador of the extraordinary—of Christ Jesus.
Holy Communion. Consider how we pray the Lord’s Prayer during Mass, with its greatest petition to the Heavenly Father, “Thy Kingdom come,” and how immediately prior to Holy Communion we pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” We are about to welcome Christ and the reign of His kingdom into our heart.
And what better way to welcome Him than to ask Mary, our Mother (cf. John 19:27), and St. Joseph, our spiritual father, to assist us at this moment of communion that our heart’s dwelling should truly be a little house of Nazareth, as expressed in the mystical words of the Song of Songs:
“When I found Him whom my soul loves, I held Him, and would not let Him go until I had brought Him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me” (3:4).
Thy Kingdom come! For 4,000 years, the Israelites prayed for the coming of the Messiah, and when He dwelt among us, He taught us the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13).
And for 2,000 years now the Church has been praying, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But in the two millennium that have passed, can we really say that His will is done on earth as in Heaven?
But if Jesus taught us to pray for it—if He placed this prayer at the center of the Church’s heart as its greatest petition—then we know it will be fulfilled. And our newest order in the diocese—the Benedictines of the Divine Will—have something beautiful to share with us about this.
Welcoming the Benedictines. On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, 2022, I officially decreed and welcomed to our diocese the “Benedictines of Divine Will” as a Public Association of the Faithful.
As their monastery is being built, how beautiful it is to see the beginning of St. Benedict’s monastic life of prayer taking root among us, with their great love of eucharistic adoration, and devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to the Chaste Heart of glorious St. Joseph.
But it is their greatest desire for us to become little houses of Nazareth, where the kingdom of the Divine Will can live and reign in us as it is in heaven. And this is what the Church has been praying for in the Lord’s Prayer, which is why they also have a strong devotion to the life and writings of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947), whose Cause for Beatification was opened in 1994.
Lamps of faith. It was in the darkness of Western Europe following the collapse of the Roman Empire 1,500 years ago that God provided lamps of faith for the people through the Benedictine monasteries that began to spread throughout the land. And in these uncertain times of growing darkness, how blessed we are to have the Benedictines of Divine Will among us.
I encourage you to visit the Benedictines of Divine Will website at benedictinesofdivinewill.org.