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 Nazarene's 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.

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The Noble Race

Part 14