May 14, 2013

How Did Jesus Show Himself As God?

Catechism Paragraphs 535 – 570

“The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant.  He allows himself to be numbered among sinners.  He is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins.  The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son.  At his baptism ‘the heavens were opened’ – the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed – and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.  536   Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection.  The with Jesus in order to rise with him, to be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father’s beloved son in the Son and ‘walk in newness of life.’”  537

“The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John.  He lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him.  At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times.  Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert.  538   The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event:  Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation.  Jesus fulfills Israel’s vocation perfectly:  in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God’s Servant.  Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father.  539   By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.”  540 

“Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the ‘family of God.’  By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God, and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together around him.  ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself’  542   ‘For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, sister, and mother.’ (Mt 12:49)  Everyone is called to enter the kingdom.  To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:  The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom.  543   The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts.  Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom. (Mt 25:31-46)  544   Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.  Words are not enough; deeds are required.”  (Mt 21:28-32) 546 

“The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him.  They invite belief in him.  Miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.” 548  

But why did Jesus work miracles?   He was filled with the power of God’s healing love.  Through his miracles he showed that he is the Messiah and that the kingdom of God begins in him.  Thus it became possible to experience the dawn of the new world.  YOUCAT Q91

“Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons.”  549

“From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission.  They remain associated for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the Church.  551   Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve.  Peter had confessed: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Our Lord then declared to him: ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’ 552   Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ (Mt 16:19)  The power of the keys designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church.  The power to bind and loose connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. 553   The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his.  Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.”  1445 

“From the day Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things … and be killed and on the third day be raised.  Jesus’ Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain, before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James, and John.”  554   For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession.  555   The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.’ (Phil 3:21)  But it also recalls that ‘it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)”   556    

Why was a man of peace like Jesus condemned to death on a cross?   In many respects Jesus was a unprecedented challenge to the traditional Judaism of his time.  He forgave sins, which God alone can do; he acted as though the Sabbath law were not absolute; he was suspected of blasphemy and brought upon himself the accusation that he was a false prophet.  All these were crimes punishable under the Law by death.  YOUCAT Q96  

Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.    --- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up (Jesus) set his face to go to Jerusalem.  By this decision he indicated that he was going up to Jerusalem prepared to die there.  557   Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem manifested the coming of the kingdom that the King-Messiah was going to accomplish by the Passover of his Death and Resurrection.  It is with the celebration of that entry on Palm Sunday that the Church’s liturgy solemnly opens Holy Week.  560  

Why did Jesus choose the date of the Jewish feast of Passover for his death and Resurrection?   Jesus chose the Passover feast of his people Israel as a symbol for what was to happen through his death and Resurrection.  As the people of Israel were freed from slavery to Egypt, so Christ frees us from the slavery of sin and the power of death.  YOUCAT Q95

Next time we’ll look behind the words of the Creed: “Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried,”  catechism paragraphs 571 – 623         

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