The pope often speaks about "next door saints" ... the people around us who reflect God's presence.
Pope Francis noted what many kids were wondering about on Sunday: If we just celebrated Christmas, why is Jesus a grown-up getting baptized already?
The Holy Father noted the ‘liturgical leap’ before he prayed the midday Angelus on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
A few days ago, we left Baby Jesus being visited by the Magi; today we find him as an adult on the banks of the Jordan. The Liturgy has us take a leap of some 30 years …
And, the pope continued, about those 30 years “we know one thing”: “They were years of hidden life, which Jesus spent with his family – some, first, in Egypt, as a migrant to escape Herod’s persecution, the others in Nazareth, learning Joseph’s trade … with family, obeying his parents, studying and working.”
Pope Francis reflected on this striking aspect about the Son of God’s time on earth, as have many spiritual writers all the way back to the Fathers of the Church.
It is striking that most of his time on Earth the Lord spent in this way: living an ordinary life, without standing out. We think that, according to the Gospels, there were three years of preaching, of miracles, and many things. Three. And the others, all the others, were of a hidden life with his family.
From this, the pope drew a “fine message for us”:
It is a fine message for us: It reveals the greatness of daily life, the importance in God’s eyes of every gesture and moment of life, even the simplest, even the most hidden.
The pope has often spoken about this “everyday holiness,” using a term that he likes: “the saints next door.” A section of his apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate(Rejoice and Be Glad) has this title. He says:
I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people […] Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness.”
This last phrase is the reference to the title of a novel by French Catholic novelist Joseph Malègue.