Catechism of the Catholic Church / Part One: The Profession of Faith
Section Two - The Creeds
Chapter Two - I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God
News: God has sent his Son
'But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman,
born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might
receive adoption as sons.'1 This is 'the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son
of God':2 God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he
made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation - he
has sent his own 'beloved Son'.3
We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of
Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar
Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the
procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the
eternal Son of God made man. He 'came from God',4 'descended from
heaven',5 and 'came in the flesh'.6 For 'the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as
of the only Son from the Father. . . and from his fullness have we all
received, grace upon grace.'7
Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in
Jesus and confess: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'8 On
the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his
"To preach. . . the unsearchable riches of Christ"10
The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus
Christ in order to lead others to faith in him. From the beginning, the first
disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: "We cannot but speak
of what we have seen and heard."11 It and they invite people of
every era to enter into the joy of their communion with Christ:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have
seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands,
concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and
testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father
and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim
also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is
with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. and we are writing this that our
joy may be complete.12
heart of catechesis: Christ
"At the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of
Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son from the Father. . .who suffered and died for
us and who now, after rising, is living with us forever."13 To
catechize is "to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God's eternal
design reaching fulfilment in that Person. It is to seek to understand the
meaning of Christ's actions and words and of the signs worked by
him."14 Catechesis aims at putting "people . . . in communion
. . . with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the
Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity."15
In catechesis "Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God,. . . is taught -
everything else is taught with reference to him - and it is Christ alone who
teaches - anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ's spokesman,
enabling Christ to teach with his lips. . . Every catechist should be able to
apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: 'My teaching is not mine, but
his who sent me.'"16
Whoever is called "to teach Christ" must first seek "the
surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus"; he must suffer "the loss
of all things. . ." in order to "gain Christ and be found in
him", and "to know him and the power of his resurrection, and (to)
share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible (he) may
attain the resurrection from the dead".17
From this loving knowledge of Christ springs the desire to proclaim him, to
"evangelize", and to lead others to the "yes" of faith in
Jesus Christ. But at the same time the need to know this faith better makes
itself felt. To this end, following the order of the Creed, Jesus' principal
titles - "Christ", "Son of God", and "Lord"
(article 2) - will be presented. the Creed next confesses the chief mysteries
of his life - those of his Incarnation (article 3), Paschal mystery (articles 4
and 5) and glorification (articles 6 and 7).
"AND IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD"
Jesus means in Hebrew: "God saves." At the annunciation, the angel
Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his
identity and his mission.18 Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God
who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, "will save his people from their
sins".19 in Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of
salvation on behalf of men.
In the history of salvation God was not content to deliver Israel "out of
the house of bondage"20 by bringing them out of Egypt. He also
saves them from their sin. Because sin is always an offence against God, only
he can forgive it.21 For this reason Israel, becoming more and more aware
of the universality of sin, will no longer be able to seek salvation except by
invoking the name of the Redeemer God.22
The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in
the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption
from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth
all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his
Incarnation,23 so that "there is no other name under heaven given
among men by which we must be saved."24
The name of the Saviour God was invoked only once in the year by the high
priest in atonement for the sins of Israel, after he had sprinkled the mercy
seat in the Holy of Holies with the sacrificial blood. the mercy seat was the
place of God's presence.25 When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom "God
put forward as an expiation by his blood", he means that in Christ's
humanity "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself."26
Jesus' Resurrection glorifies the name of the Saviour God, for from that time
on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the
"name which is above every name".27 The evil spirits fear his
name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all
they ask in this name.28
The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers
conclude with the words "through our Lord Jesus Christ". the Hail
Mary reaches its high point in the words "blessed is the fruit of thy
womb, Jesus." the Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Many
Christians, such as St. Joan of Arc, have died with the one word
"Jesus" on their lips.
The word "Christ" comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew
Messiah, which means "anointed". It became the name proper to Jesus only
because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that "Christ"
signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he
gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and,
in rare instances, for prophets.29 This had to be the case all the more
so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom
definitively.30 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the
Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.31
Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest,
prophet and king.
To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah
promised to Israel: "To you is born this day in the city of David a
Saviour, who is Christ the Lord."32 From the beginning he was
"the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world",
conceived as "holy" in Mary's virginal womb.33 God called
Joseph to "take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is
of the Holy Spirit", so that Jesus, "who is called Christ",
should be born of Joseph's spouse into the messianic lineage of
Jesus' messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, "for the name
'Christ' implies 'he who anointed', 'he who was anointed' and 'the very
anointing with which he was anointed'. the one who anointed is the Father, the
one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the
anointing.'"35 His eternal messianic consecration was revealed
during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when
"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power",
"that he might be revealed to Israel"36 as its Messiah. His
works and words will manifest him as "the Holy One of God".37
Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus
the fundamental attributes of the messianic "Son of David", promised
by God to Israel.38 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah,
though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his
contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.39
Jesus accepted Peter's profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the
Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man.40 He
unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the
transcendent identity of the Son of Man "who came down from heaven",
and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: "The Son of Man
came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for
many."41 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when
he is raised high on the cross.42 Only after his Resurrection will
Peter be able to proclaim Jesus' messianic kingship to the People of God:
"Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made
him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."43
III. The Only Son of God
In the Old Testament, "son of God" is a title given to the angels,
the Chosen People, the children of Israel, and their kings.44 It
signifies an adoptive sonship that establishes a relationship of particular
intimacy between God and his creature. When the promised Messiah-King is called
"son of God", it does not necessarily imply that he was more than
human, according to the literal meaning of these texts. Those who called Jesus
"son of God", as the Messiah of Israel, perhaps meant nothing more
Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as "the
Christ, the Son of the living God", for Jesus responds solemnly:
"Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in
heaven."46 Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on
the road to Damascus, "When he who had set me apart before I was born, and
had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order
that I might preach him among the Gentiles..."47 "and in the
synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, 'He is the Son of
God.'"48 From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ's divine
sonship will be the centre of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as
the Church's foundation.49
Peter could recognize the transcendent character of the Messiah's divine
sonship because Jesus had clearly allowed it to be so understood. To his
accusers' question before the Sanhedrin, "Are you the Son of God,
then?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am."50 Well
before this, Jesus referred to himself as "the Son" who knows the
Father, as distinct from the "servants" God had earlier sent to his
people; he is superior even to the angels.51 He distinguished his
sonship from that of his disciples by never saying "our Father",
except to command them: "You, then, pray like this: 'Our Father'",
and he emphasized this distinction, saying "my Father and your
The Gospels report that at two solemn moments, the Baptism and the
Transfiguration of Christ, the voice of the Father designates Jesus his
"beloved Son".53 Jesus calls himself the "only Son of
God", and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence.54 He
asks for faith in "the name of the only Son of God".55 In the
centurion's exclamation before the crucified Christ, "Truly this man was
the Son of God",56 that Christian confession is already heard.
Only in the Paschal mystery can the believer give the title "Son of
God" its full meaning.
After his Resurrection, Jesus' divine sonship becomes manifest in the power of
his glorified humanity. He was "designated Son of God in power according
to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead".57
The apostles can confess: "We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only
Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."58
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH,
by which God revealed himself to Moses,59 is rendered as Kyrios,
"Lord". From then on, "Lord" becomes the more usual name by
which to indicate the divinity of Israel's God. the New Testament uses this
full sense of the title "Lord" both for the Father and - what is new
- for Jesus, who is thereby recognized as God Himself.60
Jesus ascribes this title to himself in a veiled way when he disputes with the
Pharisees about the meaning of Psalm 110, but also in an explicit way when he
addresses his apostles.61 Throughout his public life, he demonstrated his
divine sovereignty by works of power over nature, illnesses, demons, death and
Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as "Lord". This title
testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.62
At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, "Lord" expresses the recognition
of the divine mystery of Jesus.63 In the encounter with the risen
Jesus, this title becomes adoration: "My Lord and my God!" It thus
takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the
Christian tradition: "It is the Lord!"64
By attributing to Jesus the divine title "Lord", the first
confessions of the Church's faith affirm from the beginning that the power,
honour and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because "he
was in the form of God",65 and the Father manifested the
sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his
From the beginning of Christian history, the assertion of Christ's lordship
over the world and over history has implicitly recognized that man should not
submit his personal freedom in an absolute manner to any earthly power, but
only to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Caesar is not "the
Lord".67 "The Church. . . believes that the key, the centre
and the purpose of the whole of man's history is to be found in its Lord and
Christian prayer is characterized by the title "Lord", whether in the
invitation to prayer ("The Lord be with you"), its conclusion
("through Christ our Lord") or the exclamation full of trust and
hope: Maranatha ("Our Lord, come!") or Maranatha ("Come,
Lord!") - "Amen Come Lord Jesus!"69
452 The name Jesus means
"God saves". the child born of the Virgin Mary is called Jesus,
"for he will save his people from their sins"
(⇒ Mt 1:21): "there is no other name
under heaven given among men by which we must be saved"
(⇒ Acts 4:12).
453 The title
"Christ" means "Anointed One" (Messiah).Jesus is the
Christ, for "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with
power" (⇒ Acts 10:38). He was the one
"who is to come" (⇒ Lk 7:19), the
object of "the hope of Israel" (⇒ Acts
454 The title "Son of
God" signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God
his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf ⇒ Jn
1:14, ⇒ 3:16,
⇒ 18); he is God himself (cf
⇒ Jn 1:1). To be a Christian, one must believe
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (cf ⇒ Acts
8:37; ⇒ 1 Jn 2:23).
455 The title
"Lord" indicates divine sovereignty. To confess or invoke Jesus as
Lord is to believe in his divinity. "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except
by the Holy Spirit'" (⇒ I Cor 12:3).
"HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY
SPIRIT, AND WAS BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY"
Paragraph 1. THE SON OF GOD BECAME MAN
I. WHY DID
THE WORD BECOME FLESH?
With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: "For us men and for our
salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became
incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."
The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God,
who "loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins":
"the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world", and
"he was revealed to take away sins":70
Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead,
to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it
to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us
the light; captives, we awaited a Saviour; prisoners, help; slaves, a
liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to
descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and
unhappy a state?71
The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God's love: "In this the
love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the
world, so that we might live through him."72 "For God so
loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should
not perish but have eternal life."73
The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: "Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me." "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no
one comes to the Father, but by me."74 On the mountain of the
Transfiguration, the Father commands: "Listen to him!"75
Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: "Love
one another as I have loved you."76 This love implies an effective
offering of oneself, after his example.77
The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine
nature":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son
of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the
Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of
God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might
become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make
us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might
make men gods."81
Taking up St. John's expression, "The Word became flesh",82
The Church calls "Incarnation" the fact that the Son of God assumed a
human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St.
Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:
Have this mind among
yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of
God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. and
being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross.83
The Letter to the Hebrews refers to the same mystery:
Consequently, when Christ came
into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you
have taken no pleasure. Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O
Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of
Christian faith: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which
confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God."85
Such is the joyous conviction of the Church from her beginning whenever she
sings "the mystery of our religion": "He was manifested in the
GOD AND TRUE MAN
The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God
does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply
that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He
became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true
During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of
faith against the heresies that falsified it.
The first heresies denied not so much Christ's divinity as his true humanity
(Gnostic Docetism). From apostolic times the Christian faith has insisted on
the true incarnation of God's Son "come in the flesh".87 But
already in the third century, the Church in a council at Antioch had to affirm
against Paul of Samosata that Jesus Christ is Son of God by nature and not by
adoption. the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 confessed in its Creed
that the Son of God is "begotten, not made, of the same substance
(homoousios) as the Father", and condemned Arius, who had affirmed that
the Son of God "came to be from things that were not" and that he was
"from another substance" than that of the Father.88
The Nestorian heresy regarded Christ as a human person joined to the divine
person of God's Son. Opposing this heresy, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the
third ecumenical council, at Ephesus in 431, confessed "that the Word,
uniting to himself in his person the flesh animated by a rational soul, became
man."89 Christ's humanity has no other subject than the divine
person of the Son of God, who assumed it and made it his own, from his
conception. For this reason the Council of Ephesus proclaimed in 431 that Mary
truly became the Mother of God by the human conception of the Son of God in her
womb: "Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity
received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since
the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to
himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be
born according to the flesh."90
467 The Monophysites affirmed
that the human nature had ceased to exist as such in Christ when the divine
person of God's Son assumed it. Faced with this heresy, the fourth ecumenical
council, at Chalcedon in 451, confessed:
the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our
Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the
same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body;
consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as
to his humanity; "like us in all things but sin". He was begotten
from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for
us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the
Mother of God.91
We confess that one and the
same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures
without confusion, change, division or separation. the distinction between the
natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to
each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person
(prosopon) and one hypostasis.92
After the Council of Chalcedon, some made of Christ's human nature a kind of
personal subject. Against them, the fifth ecumenical council, at Constantinople
in 553, confessed that "there is but one hypostasis [or person], which is
our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity."93 Thus everything in
Christ's human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper
subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death:
"He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God,
Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity."94
The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He
is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man
and our brother: "What he was, he remained and what he was not, he
assumed", sings the Roman Liturgy.95 and the liturgy of St. John
Chrysostom proclaims and sings: "O only-begotten Son and Word of God,
immortal being, you who deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the
holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, you who without change became man and
were crucified, O Christ our God, you who by your death have crushed death, you
who are one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
IV. HOW IS
THE SON OF GOD MAN?
Because "human nature was assumed, not absorbed",97 in the
mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of
centuries to confess the full reality of Christ's human soul, with its
operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion,
she had to recall on each occasion that Christ's human nature belongs, as his
own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that
Christ is and does in this nature derives from "one of the Trinity".
The Son of God therefore
communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity.
In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of
The Son of
God. . . worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a
human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has
truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.99
soul and his human knowledge
Apollinarius of Laodicaea asserted that in Christ the divine Word had replaced
the soul or spirit. Against this error the Church confessed that the eternal Son
also assumed a rational, human soul.100
This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human
knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was
exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This
is why the Son of God could, when he became man, "increase in wisdom and
in stature, and in favour with God and man",101 and would even
have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn
only from experience.102 This corresponded to the reality of his
voluntary emptying of himself, taking "the form of a
But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God's Son expressed the divine
life of his person.104 "The human nature of God's Son, not by
itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself
everything that pertains to God."105 Such is first of all the case
with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of
his Father.106 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine
penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.107
By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ
enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal
plans he had come to reveal.108 What he admitted to not knowing in this
area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.109
Similarly, at the sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the
Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations,
divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but co-operate in such a
way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that
he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our
salvation.110 Christ's human will "does not resist or oppose but
rather submits to his divine and almighty will."111
Since the Word became flesh in assuming a true humanity, Christ's body was
finite.112 Therefore the human face of Jesus can be portrayed; at the
seventh ecumenical council (Nicaea II in 787) the Church recognized its
representation in holy images to be legitimate.113
At the same time the Church has always acknowledged that in the body of Jesus
"we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we
cannot see."114 The individual characteristics of Christ's body
express the divine person of God's Son. He has made the features of his human
body his own, to the point that they can be venerated when portrayed in a holy
image, for the believer "who venerates the icon is venerating in it the
person of the one depicted".115
of the Incarnate Word
Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his
Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: "The Son of God. . .
loved me and gave himself for me."116 He has loved us all with a
human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins
and for our salvation,117 "is quite rightly considered the chief
sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually
loves the eternal Father and all human beings" without
479 At the time appointed by
God, the only Son of the Father, the eternal Word, that is, the Word and
substantial Image of the Father, became incarnate; without losing his divine
nature he has assumed human nature.
480 Jesus Christ is true God
and true man, in the unity of his divine person; for this reason he is the one
and only mediator between God and men.
481 Jesus Christ possesses
two natures, one divine and the other human, not confused, but united in the
one person of God's Son.
482 Christ, being true God
and true man, has a human intellect and will, perfectly attuned and subject to
his divine intellect and divine will, which he has in common with the Father
and the Holy Spirit.
483 The Incarnation is
therefore the mystery of the wonderful union of the divine and human natures in
the one person of the Word.
Paragraph 2. "CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY"
CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. . .
The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates "the fullness of
time",119 The time of the fulfilment of God's promises and
preparations. Mary was invited to conceive him in whom the "whole fullness
of deity" would dwell "bodily".120 The divine response
to her question, "How can this be, since I know not man?", was given
by the power of the Spirit: "The Holy Spirit will come upon
The mission of the Holy Spirit is always conjoined and ordered to that of the
Son.122 The Holy Spirit, "the Lord, the giver of Life", is
sent to sanctify the womb of the Virgin Mary and divinely fecundate it, causing
her to conceive the eternal Son of the Father in a humanity drawn from her own.
The Father's only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is
"Christ", that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the
beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes
place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist,
to the disciples.123 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make
manifest "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with
OF THE VIRGIN MARY
What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about
Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.
"God sent forth his Son", but to prepare a body for him,125
he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God
chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of
Nazareth in Galilee, "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,
of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary":126
The Father of mercies willed
that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the
predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death,
so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.127
Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of
Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives
the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well
as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.128 By
virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old
age.129 Against all human expectation God chooses those who were
considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises:
Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other
women.130 Mary "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord,
who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of
waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the
new plan of salvation is established."131
To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts
appropriate to such a role."132 The angel Gabriel at the moment of
the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace".133 In fact,
in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the
announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary,
"full of grace" through God,134 was redeemed from the moment
of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary
was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege
of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the
human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135
The "splendour of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is
"enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from
Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the
merits of her Son".136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other
created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly
places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and blameless before him in love".137
The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the
All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of
sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new
creature".138 By the grace of God Mary remained free of every
personal sin her whole life long.
"Let it be done to me according to your word. . ."
At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most
High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded
with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible":
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according
to your word."139 Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary
becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation
wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely
to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the
mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace:140
As St. Irenaeus says,
"Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the
whole human race."141 Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly
assert. . .: "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's
obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by
her faith."142 Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the
Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life
Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus", Mary is acclaimed by
Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son,
as "the mother of my Lord".144 In fact, the One whom she
conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the
flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the
Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of
From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus
was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin
Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived
"by the Holy Spirit without human seed".146 The Fathers see
in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came
in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of
the second century says:
You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according
to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of
a virgin,. . . he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius
Pilate. . . he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen.147
The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine
work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility:148
"That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit", said the
angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee.149 The Church sees here the
fulfilment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah:
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son."150
are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark's Gospel and the New
Testament Epistles about Jesus' virginal conception. Some might wonder if we
were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be
history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met
with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews
and pagans alike;151 so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan
mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. the meaning of this
event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the "connection
of these mysteries with one another"152 in the totality of
Christ's mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of
Antioch already bears witness to this connection: "Mary's virginity and
giving birth, and even the Lord's death escaped the notice of the prince of
this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in
The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess
Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son
of God made man.154 In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his
mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it."155 and so the
liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the
this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions
brothers and sisters of Jesus.157 The Church has always understood
these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact
James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary,
a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other
Mary".158 They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old
Jesus is Mary's only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom
indeed he came to save: "The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God
placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose
generation and formation she co-operates with a mother's love."160
virginal motherhood in God's plan
The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the
mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a
virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive
mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men.
virginity manifests God's absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has
only God as Father. "He was never estranged from the Father because of the
human nature which he assumed. . . He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity
and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the
Father in both natures."161
is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary's womb because he is the New
Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: "The first man was from the earth,
a man of dust; the second man is from heaven."162 From his
conception, Christ's humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God
"gives him the Spirit without measure."163 From "his
fullness" as the head of redeemed humanity "we have all received,
grace upon grace."164
virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children
adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. "How can this be?"165
Participation in the divine life arises "not of blood nor of the will of
the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God".166 The acceptance
of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit's gift to man. the
spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God167 is
fulfilled perfectly in Mary's virginal motherhood.
is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith "unadulterated
by any doubt", and of her undivided gift of herself to God's
will.168 It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the
Saviour: "Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than
because she conceives the flesh of Christ."169
once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of
the Church: "the Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith
becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who
are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life.
She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she
pledged to her spouse."170
508 From among the
descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son.
"Full of grace", Mary is "the most excellent fruit of
redemption" (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was
totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all
personal sin throughout her life.
509 Mary is truly
"Mother of God" since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God
made man, who is God himself.
510 Mary "remained a
virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in
carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin" (St.
Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is "the
handmaid of the Lord" (⇒ Lk 1:38).
511 The Virgin Mary
"co-operated through free faith and obedience in human salvation" (LG
56). She uttered her yes "in the name of all human nature" (St.
Thomas Aquinas, S Th III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve,
mother of the living.
Paragraph 3. THE MYSTERIES OF CHRIST'S LIFE
Concerning Christ's life the Creed speaks only about the mysteries of the
Incarnation (conception and birth) and Paschal mystery (passion, crucifixion,
death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension). It says nothing
explicitly about the mysteries of Jesus' hidden or public life, but the
articles of faith concerning his Incarnation and Passover do shed light on the
whole of his earthly life. "All that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning
until the day when he was taken up to heaven",171 is to be seen in
the light of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter.
According to circumstances catechesis will make use of all the richness of the
mysteries of Jesus. Here it is enough merely to indicate some elements common
to all the mysteries of Christ's life (I), in order then to sketch the
principal mysteries of Jesus' hidden (II) and public (III) life.
WHOLE LIFE IS MYSTERY
Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the
Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a
great part of his public life is not recounted.172 What is written in
the Gospels was set down there "so that you may believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his
The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the
faith174 and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who
Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all
his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his
Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus' life was a
sign of his mystery.175 His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that
"in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."176 His
humanity appeared as "sacrament", that is, the sign and instrument,
of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly
life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive
common to Jesus' mysteries
Christ's whole earthly life - his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings,
indeed his manner of being and speaking - is Revelation of the Father. Jesus
can say: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father", and the Father
can say: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"177 Because
our Lord became man in order to do his Father's will, even the least
characteristics of his mysteries manifest "God's love. . . among
Christ's whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above
all through the blood of his cross,179 but this mystery is at work
throughout Christ's entire life: -already in his Incarnation through which by
becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;180 - in his hidden life
which by his submission atones for our disobedience;181 - in his word
which purifies its hearers;182- in his healings and exorcisms by which
"he took our infirmities and bore our diseases";183 - and in
his Resurrection by which he justifies us.184
Christ's whole life is a mystery of recapitulation. All Jesus did, said and
suffered had for its aim restoring fallen man to his original vocation:
When Christ became incarnate and was made man, he recapitulated in
himself the long history of mankind and procured for us a "short cut"
to salvation, so that what we had lost in Adam, that is, being in the image and
likeness of God, we might recover in Christ Jesus.185 For this reason
Christ experienced all the stages of life, thereby giving communion with God to
communion in the mysteries of Jesus
All Christ's riches "are for every individual and are everybody's
property."187 Christ did not live his life for himself but for us,
from his Incarnation "for us men and for our salvation" to his death
"for our sins" and Resurrection "for our
justification".188 He is still "our advocate with the
Father", who "always lives to make intercession" for us.189
He remains ever "in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him
all that he lived and suffered for us."190
In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is "the perfect
man",191 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In
humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he
draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation
and persecutions that may come our way.192
Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in
us. "By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united
himself with each man."193 We are called only to become one with
him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for
us in his flesh as our model:
We must continue to accomplish
in ourselves the stages of Jesus' life and his mysteries and often to beg him
to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church. . . For it is the
plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in his mysteries
and to extend them to and continue them in us and in his whole Church. This is
his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us.194
MYSTERIES OF JESUS' INFANCY AND HIDDEN LIFE
The coming of God's Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed
to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all
the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the "First
Covenant".195 He announces him through the mouths of the prophets
who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the
pagans a dim expectation of this coming.
St. John the Baptist is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to
prepare his way.196 "Prophet of the Most High", John
surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last.197 He inaugurates
the Gospel, already from his mother's womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and
rejoices in being "the friend of the bridegroom", whom he points out
as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world".198
Going before Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah", John bears
witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through
When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present
this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation
for the Saviour's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his
second coming.200 By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom,
the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must
Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family.202 Simple
shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven's
glory was made manifest.203 The Church never tires of singing the glory
of this night:
The Virgin today brings into
the world the Eternal
and the earth offers a cave to
The angels and shepherds
and the magi advance with the
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God
To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the
kingdom.205 For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even
more: to become "children of God" we must be "born from
above" or "born of God".206 Only when Christ is formed
in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us.207 Christmas is
the mystery of this "marvellous exchange":
O marvellous exchange! Man's Creator has become man,
born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who
humbled himself to share our humanity.208
mysteries of Jesus' infancy
Jesus' circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth,209 is the sign
of his incorporation into Abraham's descendants, into the people of the
covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law210 and his
deputation to Israel's worship, in which he will participate throughout his
life. This sign prefigures that "circumcision of Christ" which is
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and
Saviour of the world. the great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of
Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the
Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.212 In the magi,
representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the
first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the
Incarnation. the magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king
of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star
of David, the one who will be king of the nations.213 Their coming
means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour
of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the
messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.214 The Epiphany
shows that "the full number of the nations" now takes its "place
in the family of the patriarchs", and acquires Israelitica
dignitas215 (is made "worthy of the heritage of Israel").
The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who
belongs to the Lord.216 With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its
encounter with the Saviour - the name given to this event in the Byzantine
tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to
the nations" and the "glory of Israel", but also "a sign
that is spoken against". the sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces
Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the
salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples".
The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents217 make
manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: "He came to his own
home, and his own people received him not."218 Christ's whole life
was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him.219
Jesus' departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the
definitive liberator of God's people.220
mysteries of Jesus' hidden life
During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast
majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life
of manual labour. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of
God,221 a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed
to us that Jesus was "obedient" to his parents and that he
"increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and
Jesus' obedience to his mother and legal father fulfils the fourth commandment
perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in
heaven. the everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and
anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: "Not my will. .
."223 The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life
was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam
The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus
by the most ordinary events of daily life:
The home of Nazareth is the
school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus - the school of the
Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that
admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on
family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love,
its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character... A
lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the "Carpenter's Son", in you I
would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human
work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up
to them their great pattern their brother who is God.225
The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of
the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus.226 Here Jesus lets us
catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that
flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my
Father's work?"227 Mary and Joseph did not understand these words,
but they accepted them in faith. Mary "kept all these things in her
heart" during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an
MYSTERIES OF JESUS' PUBLIC LIFE
Jesus' public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.228
John preaches "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of
sins".229 A crowd of sinners230 - tax collectors and soldiers,
Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes - come to be baptized by him.
"Then Jesus appears." the Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and
receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus
and a voice from heaven proclaims, "This is my beloved
Son."231 This is the manifestation ("Epiphany") of Jesus
as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.
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 already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the
world".232 Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of
his bloody death.233 Already he is coming to "fulfil all
righteousness", that is, 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.234 The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance,
proclaiming his entire delight in his Son.235 The Spirit whom Jesus
possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on
him".236 Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind.
At his baptism "the heavens were opened"237 - 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.
Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his
own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. the Christian must enter
into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the
water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit
so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and "walk in newness
Let us be buried with Christ
by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and
let us rise with him to be glorified with him.239
Everything that happened to
Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down
upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become
sons of God.240
The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after
his baptism by John. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there
for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister
to him.241 At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times,
seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these
attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel
in the desert, and the devil leaves him "until an opportune
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 fulfils 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, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the
devil's conqueror: he "binds the strong man" to take back his
plunder.243 Jesus' victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates
victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the
Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary
to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to
him.244 This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: "For we
have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one
who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning."245
By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the
mystery of Jesus in the desert.
kingdom of God is at hand"
"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the
gospel of God, and saying: 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at
hand: repent, and believe in the gospel.'"246 "To carry out
the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on
earth."247 Now the Father's will is "to raise up men to share
in his own divine life".248 He does this by gathering men around
his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, "on earth the seed and
beginning of that kingdoms".249
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.
But above all in the great Paschal mystery - his death on the cross and his
Resurrection - he would accomplish the coming of his kingdom. "and I, when
I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." Into this
union with Christ all men are called.250
proclamation of the kingdom of God
Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of
Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all
nations.251 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.
Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the
The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted
it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to "preach good news to the
poor";253 he declares them blessed, for "theirs is the
kingdom of heaven."254 To them - the "little ones" the Father
is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the
learned.255 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the
cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.256 Jesus identifies
himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the
condition for entering his kingdom.257
Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: "I came not to call the
righteous, but sinners."258 He invites them to that conversion
without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his
Father's boundless mercy for them and the vast "joy in heaven over one
sinner who repents".259 The supreme proof of his love will be the
sacrifice of his own life "for the forgiveness of sins".260
Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a
characteristic feature of his teaching.261 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.262 Words are not
enough, deeds are required.263 The parables are like mirrors for man:
will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?264 What use has he
made of the talents he has received?265 Jesus and the presence of the
kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter
the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the
secrets of the kingdom of heaven".266 For those who stay
"outside", everything remains enigmatic.267
of the kingdom of God
Jesus accompanies his words with many "mighty works and wonders and
signs", which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that
he was the promised Messiah.268
The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite
belief in him.269 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what
they ask.270 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his
Father's works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.271 But his
miracles can also be occasions for "offence";272 they are not
intended to satisfy people's curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident
miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of
By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice,
illness and death,274 Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he
did not come to abolish all evils here below,275 but to free men from
the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God's sons
and causes all forms of human bondage.276
The coming of God's kingdom means the defeat of Satan's: "If it is by the
Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon
you."277 Jesus' exorcisms free some individuals from the domination
of demons. They anticipate Jesus' great victory over "the ruler of this
world".278 The kingdom of God will be definitively established
through Christ's cross: "God reigned from the wood."279
keys of the kingdom"
From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in
number, to be with him and to participate in his mission.280 He gives
the Twelve a share in his authority and 'sent them out to preach the kingdom of
God and to heal."281 They remain associated for ever with Christ's
kingdom, for through them he directs the Church:
As my Father appointed a
kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table
in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of
Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;283
Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father,
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."284 Christ, the "living Stone",285 thus
assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death.
Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the
Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to
strengthen his brothers in it.286
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."287 The "power of the keys" designates authority
to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd,
confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: "Feed my
sheep."288 The power to "bind and loose" connotes the
authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make
disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the
Church through the ministry of the apostles289 and in particular
through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted
the keys of the kingdom.
of the kingdom: the Transfiguration
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."290 Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others
understand it any better than he.291 In this context the mysterious
episode of Jesus' Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain,292
before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus' face
and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking
"of his departure, which he was to accomplish at
Jerusalem".293 A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says:
"This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"294
For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter's confession.
He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in
order to "enter into his glory".295
Moses and Elijah had seen God's glory on the Mountain; the Law and the Prophets
had announced the Messiah's sufferings.296 Christ's Passion is the will
of the Father: the Son acts as God's servant;297 The cloud indicates
the presence of the Holy Spirit. "The whole Trinity appeared: the Father
in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining
You were transfigured on the
mountain, and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld your
glory, O Christ our God, so that when they should see you crucified they would
understand that your Passion was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you
truly are the splendour of the Father.299
On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the
Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus' baptism proclaimed "the mystery of
the first regeneration", namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration "is
the sacrament of the second regeneration": our own
Resurrection.300 From now on we share in the Lord's Resurrection
through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. the
Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ's glorious coming, when he "will
change our lowly body to be like his glorious body."301 But it
also recalls that "it is through many persecutions that we must enter the
kingdom of God":302
Peter did not yet understand
this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved
for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: "Go down to toil
on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes
down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be
exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse
ascent to Jerusalem
"When the days drew near for him to be taken up [Jesus] set his face to go
to Jerusalem."304 By this decision he indicated that he was going
up to Jerusalem prepared to die there. Three times he had announced his Passion
and Resurrection; now, heading toward Jerusalem, Jesus says: "It cannot be
that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem."305
Jesus recalls the martyrdom of the prophets who had been put to death in
Jerusalem. Nevertheless he persists in calling Jerusalem to gather around him:
"How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers
her brood under her wings, and you would not!"306 When Jerusalem
comes into view he weeps over her and expresses once again his heart's desire:
"Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now
they are hid from your eyes."307
messianic entrance into Jerusalem
How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused
popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details
for his messianic entry into the city of "his father
David".308 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings
salvation (Hosanna means "Save!" or "Give salvation!"), the
"King of glory" enters his City "riding on an ass".309
Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse
nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the
truth.310 and so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children
and God's poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to
the shepherds.311 Their acclamation, "Blessed be he who comes in
the name of the Lord",312 is taken up by the Church in the Sanctus
of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord's Passover.
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.
561 "The whole of
Christ's life was a continual teaching: his silences, his miracles, his
gestures, his prayer, his love for people, his special affection for the little
and the poor, his acceptance of the total sacrifice on the Cross for the
redemption of the world, and his Resurrection are the actualization of his word
and the fulfilment of Revelation" John Paul II, CT 9).
562 Christ's disciples are to
conform themselves to him until he is formed in them (cf ⇒ Gal
4:19). "For this reason we, who have been made like to him, who
have died with him and risen with him, are taken up into the mysteries of his
life, until we reign together with him" (LG 7 # 4).
563 No one, whether shepherd
or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger
at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a new-born child.
564 By his obedience to Mary
and Joseph, as well as by his humble work during the long years in Nazareth,
Jesus gives us the example of holiness in the daily life of family and work.
565 From the beginning of his
public life, at his baptism, Jesus is the "Servant", wholly
consecrated to the redemptive work that he will accomplish by the
"baptism" of his Passion.
566 The temptation in the
desert shows Jesus, the humble Messiah, who triumphs over Satan by his total
adherence to the plan of salvation willed by the Father.
567 The kingdom of heaven was
inaugurated on earth by Christ. "This kingdom shone out before men in the
word, in the works and in the presence of Christ" (LG 5). the Church is
the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter.
568 Christ's Transfiguration
aims at strengthening the apostles' faith in anticipation of his Passion: the
ascent on to the "high mountain" prepares for the ascent to Calvary.
Christ, Head of the Church, manifests what his Body contains and radiates in
the sacraments: "the hope of glory" (⇒ Col
1:27; cf.: St. Leo the Great, Sermo 51, 3: PL 54, 310C).
569 Jesus went up to
Jerusalem voluntarily, knowing well that there he would die a violent death because
of the opposition of sinners (cf ⇒ Heb 12:3).
570 Jesus' entry into
Jerusalem manifests the coming of the kingdom that the Messiah-King, welcomed
into his city by children and the humble of heart, is going to accomplish by
the Passover of his Death and Resurrection.
"JESUS CHRIST SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS
PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED AND WAS BURIED"
The Paschal mystery of Christ's cross and Resurrection stands at the centre of
the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim
to the world. God's saving plan was accomplished "once for
all"313 by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.
The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of "all the
Scriptures" that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: "Was
it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his
glory?"314 Jesus' sufferings took their historical, concrete form
from the fact that he was "rejected by the elders and the chief priests
and the scribes", who handed "him to the Gentiles to be mocked and
scourged and crucified".315
Faith can therefore try to examine the circumstances of Jesus' death,
faithfully handed on by the Gospels316 and illuminated by other
historical sources, the better to understand the meaning of the Redemption.
Paragraph 1. JESUS AND ISRAEL
From the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans
of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy
him.317 Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving
sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of
the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public
sinners318--some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic
possession.319 He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious
crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.320
of Jesus' deeds and words constituted a "sign of
contradiction",321 but more so for the religious authorities in
Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply "the
Jews",322 than for the ordinary People of God.323 To be
sure, Christ's relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical.
Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;324 Jesus praises
some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their
homes.325 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this
religious elite of God's people: the resurrection of the dead,326
certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),327 The custom
of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God
In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential
institutions of the Chosen People: - submission to the whole of the Law in its
written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral
tradition; - the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where
God's presence dwells in a special way; - faith in the one God whose glory no
man can share.
AND THE LAW
At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus issued a solemn warning in
which he presented God's law, given on Sinai during the first covenant, in
light of the grace of the New Covenant:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets: I have
come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth
pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law,
until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these
commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the
kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great
in the kingdom of heaven.329
Jesus, Israel's Messiah and therefore the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,
was to fulfil the Law by keeping it in its all embracing detail - according to
his own words, down to "the least of these commandments".330
He is in fact the only one who could keep it perfectly.331 On their own
admission the Jews were never able to observe the Law in its entirety without
violating the least of its precepts.332 This is why every year on the
Day of Atonement the children of Israel ask God's forgiveness for their
transgressions of the Law. the Law indeed makes up one inseparable whole, and
St. James recalls, "Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has
become guilty of all of it."333
principle of integral observance of the Law not only in letter but in spirit
was dear to the Pharisees. By giving Israel this principle they had led many
Jews of Jesus' time to an extreme religious zeal.334 This zeal, were it
not to lapse into "hypocritical" casuistry,335 could only
prepare the People for the unprecedented intervention of God through the
perfect fulfilment of the Law by the only Righteous One in place of all sinners.336
The perfect fulfilment of the Law could be the work of none but the divine
legislator, born subject to the Law in the person of the Son.337 In
Jesus, the Law no longer appears engraved on tables of stone but "upon the
heart" of the Servant who becomes "a covenant to the people",
because he will "faithfully bring forth justice".338 Jesus
fulfils the Law to the point of taking upon himself "the curse of the
Law" incurred by those who do not "abide by the things written in the
book of the Law, and do them", for his death took place to redeem them
"from the transgressions under the first covenant".339
Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi.340
He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the
Law.341 Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law,
for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but
taught the people "as one who had authority, and not as their
scribes".342 In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on
Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the
Mount of the Beatitudes.343 Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled
it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: "You have heard
that it was said to the men of old. . . But I say to you. . ."344
With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the
Pharisees that were "making void the word of God".345
even further, Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily
life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation:
"Whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him. . . (Thus he
declared all foods clean.). . . What comes out of a man is what defiles a man.
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts. .
."346 In presenting with divine authority the definitive interpretation
of the Law, Jesus found himself confronted by certain teachers of the Law who
did not accept his interpretation of the Law, guaranteed though it was by the
divine signs that accompanied it.347 This was the case especially with
the sabbath laws, for he recalls, often with rabbinical arguments, that the
sabbath rest is not violated by serving God and neighbour,348 which his
own healings did.
AND THE TEMPLE
Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple
in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty
days after his birth.349 At the age of twelve he decided to remain in
the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father's business.350
He went there each year during his hidden life at least for
Passover.351 His public ministry itself was patterned by his
pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.352
Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For
him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was
angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce.353 He
drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: "You
shall not make my Father's house a house of trade. His disciples remembered
that it was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"354
After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple.355
On the threshold of his Passion Jesus announced the coming destruction of this
splendid building, of which there would not remain "one stone upon
another".356 By doing so, he announced a sign of the last days,
which were to begin with his own Passover.357 But this prophecy would
be distorted in its telling by false witnesses during his interrogation at the
high priest's house, and would be thrown back at him as an insult when he was
nailed to the cross.358
Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of
his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him
Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church.359 He
even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God's
definitive dwelling-place among men.360 Therefore his being put to
bodily death361 presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would
manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: "The hour
is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the
AND ISRAEL'S FAITH IN THE ONE GOD AND SAVIOUR
If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions of opposition to Jesus
by Israel's religious authorities, his role in the redemption of sins, the
divine work par excellence, was the true stumbling-block for them.363
Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as
familiarly as with themselves.364 Against those among them "who
trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others", Jesus
affirmed: "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to
repentance."365 He went further by proclaiming before the
Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation
are blind to themselves.366
Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward
sinners with God's own attitude toward them.367 He went so far as to
hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the
messianic banquet.368 But it was most especially by forgiving sins that
Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma.
Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, "Who can forgive sins
but God alone?"369 By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming
as a man who made himself God's equal, or is speaking the truth and his person
really does make present and reveal God's name.370
Only the divine identity of Jesus' person can justify so absolute a claim as
"He who is not with me is against me"; and his saying that there was
in him "something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon",
something "greater than the Temple"; his reminder that David had
called the Messiah his Lord,371 and his affirmations, "Before
Abraham was, I AM", and even "I and the Father are one."372
Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of
the Father's works which he accomplished.373 But such an act of faith
must go through a mysterious death to self, for a new "birth from above"
under the influence of divine grace.374 Such a demand for conversion in
the face of so surprising a fulfilment of the promises375 allows one to
understand the Sanhedrin's tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that
he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer.376 The members of the
Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of "ignorance" and
the "hardness" of their "unbelief".377
592 Jesus did not abolish the
Law of Sinai, but rather fulfilled it (cf ⇒ Mt
5:17-19) with such perfection (cf ⇒ Jn
8:46) that he revealed its ultimate meaning (cf
⇒ Mt 5:33) and redeemed the transgressions
against it (cf ⇒ Heb 9:15).
593 Jesus venerated the
Temple by going up to it for the Jewish feasts of pilgrimage, and with a
jealous love he loved this dwelling of God among men. the Temple prefigures his
own mystery. When he announces its destruction, it is as a manifestation of his
own execution and of the entry into a new age in the history of salvation, when
his Body would be the definitive Temple.
594 Jesus performed acts,
such as pardoning sins, that manifested him to be the Saviour God himself (cf
⇒ Jn 5:16-18). Certain Jews, who did not
recognize God made man (cf ⇒ Jn 1:14), saw in
him only a man who made himself God (⇒ Jn
10:33), and judged him as a blasphemer.
Paragraph 2. JESUS DIED CRUCIFIED
TRIAL OF JESUS
among the Jewish authorities concerning Jesus
the religious authorities of Jerusalem, not only were the Pharisee Nicodemus
and the prominent Joseph of Arimathea both secret disciples of Jesus, but there
was also long-standing dissension about him, so much so that St. John says of
these authorities on the very eve of Christ's Passion, "many.. . believed
in him", though very imperfectly.378 This is not surprising, if
one recalls that on the day after Pentecost "a great many of the priests
were obedient to the faith" and "some believers. . . belonged to the
party of the Pharisees", to the point that St. James could tell St. Paul,
"How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed;
and they are all zealous for the Law."379
religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take
towards Jesus.380 The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his
followers.381 To those who feared that "everyone will believe in
him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation",
the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: "It is expedient for you
that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not
perish."382 The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of
death as a blasphemer but having lost the right to put anyone to death, hands
him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts
him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of
sedition.383 The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so
that he would condemn Jesus to death.384
not collectively responsible for Jesus' death
The historical complexity of Jesus' trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts.
the personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to
God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in
Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global
reproaches contained in the apostles' calls to conversion after
Pentecost.385 Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter
in following suit, both accept "the ignorance" of the Jews of
Jerusalem and even of their leaders.386 Still less can we extend
responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the
crowd's cry: "His blood be on us and on our children!", a formula for
ratifying a judicial sentence.387 As the Church declared at the Second
Vatican Council: . . .
Neither all Jews
indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes
committed during his Passion. . . the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected
or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.388
were the authors of Christ's Passion
In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the
Church has never forgotten that "sinners were the authors and the
ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer
endured."389 Taking into account the fact that our sins affect
Christ himself,390 The Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians
the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a
responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:
We must regard as guilty all
those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord
Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into
disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in
them) and hold him up to contempt. and it can be seen that our crime in this
case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness
of the Apostle, "None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if
they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." We, however,
profess to know him. and when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to
lay violent hands on him.391
Nor did demons crucify him; it
is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your
vices and sins.392
CHRIST'S REDEMPTIVE DEATH IN GOD'S PLAN OF SALVATION
handed over according to the definite plan of God"
Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence
of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan, as St. Peter
explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: "This
Jesus (was) delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of
God."393 This Biblical language does not mean that those who
handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by
To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he
establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it
each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both
Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered
together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever
your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."395 For the
sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed
from their blindness.396
"He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures"
The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting
to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal
redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of
sin.397 Citing a confession of faith that he himself had
"received", St. Paul professes that "Christ died for our sins in
accordance with the scriptures."398 In particular Jesus'
redemptive death fulfils Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant.399
Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light
of God's suffering Servant.400 After his Resurrection he gave this
interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.401
our sake God made him to be sin"
Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of
salvation in this way: "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited
from your fathers... with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb
without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but
was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake."402 Man's
sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.403 By sending
his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on
account of sin, God "made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we
might become the righteousness of God."404
Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned.405
But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us
in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our
name from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken
me?"406 Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners,
God "did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all", so that
we might be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son".407
the initiative of universal redeeming love
By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is
one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part: "In this is love,
not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation
for our sins."408 God "shows his love for us in that while we
were yet sinners Christ died for us."409
At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes
no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of
these little ones should perish."410 He affirms that he came
"to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not
restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the
redeemer who hands himself over to save us.411 The Church, following
the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception:
"There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for
whom Christ did not suffer."412
OFFERED HIMSELF TO HIS FATHER FOR OUR SINS
whole life is an offering to the Father
The Son of God, who came down "from heaven, not to do (his) own will, but
the will of him who sent (him)",413 said on coming into the world,
"Lo, I have come to do your will, O God." "and by that will we
have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for
all."414 From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces
the Father's plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: "My food
is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his
work."415 The sacrifice of Jesus "for the sins of the whole
world"416 expresses his loving communion with the Father.
"The Father loves me, because I lay down my life", said the Lord,
"(for) I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know
that I love the Father."417
The desire to embrace his Father's plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus' whole
life,418 for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his
Incarnation. and so he asked, "and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from
this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour."419 and
again, "Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given
me?"420 From the cross, just before "It is finished", he
said, "I thirst."421
Lamb who takes away the sin of the world"
After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked
at Jesus and pointed him out as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin
of the world".422 By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the
same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the
slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb,
the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover.423 Christ's
whole life expresses his mission: "to serve, and to give his life as a ransom
freely embraced the Father's redeeming love
By embracing in his human heart the Father's love for men, Jesus "loved
them to the end", for "greater love has no man than this, that a man
lay down his life for his friends."425 In suffering and death his
humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which
desires the salvation of men.426 Indeed, out of love for his Father and
for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and
death: "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own
accord."427 Hence the sovereign freedom of God's Son as he went
out to his death.428
At the Last
Supper Jesus anticipated the free offering of his life
Jesus gave the supreme expression of his free offering of himself at the meal
shared with the twelve Apostles "on the night he was
betrayed".429 On the eve of his Passion, while still free, Jesus
transformed this Last Supper with the apostles into the memorial of his
voluntary offering to the Father for the salvation of men: "This is my
body which is given for you." "This is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."430
The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his
sacrifice.431 Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids
them perpetuate it.432 By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as
priests of the New Covenant: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that
they also may be sanctified in truth."433
The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at
the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father's hands in his
agony in the garden at Gethsemani,434 making himself "obedient
unto death". Jesus prays: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup
pass from me. . ."435 Thus he expresses the horror that death
represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for
eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of
death.436 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine
person of the "Author of life", the "Living
One".437 By accepting in his human will that the Father's will be
done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for "he himself bore our sins in
his body on the tree."438
death is the unique and definitive sacrifice
Christ's death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive
redemption of men, through "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the
world",439 and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores
man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the "blood of
the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of
This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other
sacrifices.441 First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the
Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At
the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and
love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for
substitutes his obedience for our disobedience
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's
obedience many will be made righteous."443 By his obedience unto
death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who
"makes himself an offering for sin", when "he bore the sin of
many", and who "shall make many to be accounted righteous", for
"he shall bear their iniquities".444 Jesus atoned for our
faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.445
consummates his sacrifice on the cross
It is love "to the end"446 that confers on Christ's sacrifice
its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew
and loved us all when he offered his life.447 Now "the love of
Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all;
therefore all have died."448 No man, not even the holiest, was
ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a
sacrifice for all. the existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who
at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as
the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.
The Council of Trent emphasizes the unique character of Christ's sacrifice as
"the source of eternal salvation"449 and teaches that
"his most holy Passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for
us."450 and the Church venerates his cross as she sings:
"Hail, O Cross, our only hope."451
participation in Christ's sacrifice
The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the "one mediator between God
and men".452 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in
some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made
partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all
men.453 He calls his disciples to "take up [their] cross and
follow (him)",454 for "Christ also suffered for (us), leaving
(us) an example so that (we) should follow in his steps."455 In
fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to
be its first beneficiaries.456 This is achieved supremely in the case
of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the
mystery of his redemptive suffering.457 Apart from the cross there is
no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458
619 "Christ died for our
sins in accordance with the scriptures" (⇒ I Cor
620 Our salvation flows from
God's initiative of love for us, because "he loved us and sent his Son to
be the expiation for our sins" (⇒ I Jn
4:10). "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself"
(⇒ 2 Cor 5:19).
621 Jesus freely offered
himself for our salvation. Beforehand, during the Last Supper, he both symbolized
this offering and made it really present: "This is my body which is given
for you" (⇒ Lk 22:19).
622 The redemption won by
Christ consists in this, that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"
(⇒ Mt 20:28), that is, he "loved [his
own] to the end" (⇒ Jn 13:1), so that
they might be "ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their]
fathers" (⇒ I Pt 1:18).
623 By his loving obedience
to the Father, "unto death, even death on a cross"
(⇒ Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfils the atoning mission
(cf ⇒ Is 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who
will "make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities"
Paragraph 3. JESUS CHRIST WAS BURIED
"By the grace of God" Jesus tasted death "for every
one".459 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son
should not only "die for our sins"460 but should also
"taste death", experience the condition of death, the separation of
his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time
he was raised from the dead. the state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the
tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when
Christ, lying in the tomb,461 reveals God's great sabbath
rest462 after the fulfilment463 of man's salvation, which
brings peace to the whole universe.464
the tomb in his body
Christ's stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state
before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. the same person of the
"Living One" can say, "I died, and behold I am alive for
God [the Son] did not impede
death from separating his soul from his body according to the necessary order
of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the Resurrection, so that he
himself might be, in his person, the meeting point for death and life, by
arresting in himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so
becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts.466
Since the "Author of life" who was killed467 is the same
"living one [who has] risen",468 The divine person of the Son
of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from
each other by death:
By the fact that at Chnst's death his soul was separated from his flesh,
his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and
soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly
existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated
from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the
will not let your Holy One see corruption"
Christ's death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human
existence. But because of the union his body retained with the person of the
Son, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for "divine power preserved Christ's
body from corruption."470 Both of these statements can be said of
Christ: "He was cut off out of the land of the living",471
and "My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to
Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption."472 Jesus'
Resurrection "on the third day" was the proof of this, for bodily
decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.473
with Christ. . ."
Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously
signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with
Christ in order to live a new life. "We were buried therefore with him by
baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of
the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."474
629 To the benefit of every
man, Jesus Christ tasted death (cf ⇒ Heb 2:9). It is
truly the Son of God made man who died and was buried.
630 During Christ's period in
the tomb, his divine person continued to assume both his soul and his body,
although they were separated from each other by death. For this reason the dead
Christ's body "saw no corruption" (⇒ Acts
"HE DESCENDED INTO HELL. ON THE THIRD DAY
HE ROSE AGAIN"
Jesus "descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he
who also ascended far above all the heavens."475 The Apostles'
Creed confesses in the same article Christ's descent into hell and his
Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was
precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth:
Christ, that Morning Star, who
came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.476
Paragraph 1. CHRIST DESCENDED INTO HELL
The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the
dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead
prior to his resurrection.477 This was the first meaning given in the
apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men,
experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead.
But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits
Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down,
"hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are
there are deprived of the vision of God.479 Such is the case for all
the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does
not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the
poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom":480
"It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Saviour in Abraham's
bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into
hell."481 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned,
nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before
"The gospel was preached even to the dead."483 The descent
into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This
is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in
time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work
to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made
sharers in the redemption.
Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the
voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."484 Jesus,
"the Author of life", by dying destroyed "him who has the power
of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of
death were subject to lifelong bondage."485 Henceforth the risen
Christ holds "the keys of Death and Hades", so that "at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."486
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great
stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. the earth trembled and
is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all
who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam,
our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live
in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in
his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of
Eve. . . "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I
order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell.
Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead."487
636 By the expression
"He descended into hell", the Apostles' Creed confesses that Jesus
did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil
"who has the power of death" (⇒ Heb 2:14).
637 In his human soul united
to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He
opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him.
Paragraph 2. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE FROM THE
"We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this
day he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus."488
The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith
believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community;
handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New
Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with
Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death;
To the dead, he has given
HISTORICAL AND TRANSCENDENT EVENT
The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that
were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D.
56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: "I delivered to you as
of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in
accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on
the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to
Cephas, then to the Twelve. . ."490 The Apostle speaks here of the
living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion
at the gates of Damascus.491
"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has
risen."492 The first element we encounter in the framework of the
Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of
Resurrection; the absence of Christ's body from the tomb could be explained
otherwise.493 Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign
for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the
very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women,
and then with Peter.494 The disciple "whom Jesus loved"
affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered "the linen
cloths lying there", "he saw and believed".495 This
suggests that he realized from the empty tomb's condition that the absence of
Jesus' body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply
returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.496
of the Risen One
Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of
Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening
of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.497 Thus the
women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles
themselves.498 They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter,
then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers,499
and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that
the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to
Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the
apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on
Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation
stones of his Church. the faith of the first community of believers is based on
the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still
living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his
Resurrection", but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of
more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and
also of James and of all the apostles.501
all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something
outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an
historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was
drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross,
which he had foretold.502 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great
that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the
Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation,
the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking
sad"503) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women
returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle
tale".504 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter
evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart,
because they had not believed those who saw him after he had
when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still
doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a
ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still
wondering."506 Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and
St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee
"some doubted."507 Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection
was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the
contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine
grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.
The condition of Christ's risen humanity
By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct
contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is
not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to
them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears
the traces of his Passion.508 Yet at the same time this authentic, real
body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and
time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no
longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine
realm.509 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign
freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms
familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.510
Christ's Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with
the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus'
daughter, the young man of Naim, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events,
but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus' power to ordinary
earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ's
Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the
state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus' Resurrection
his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life
in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is "the man of
Resurrection as transcendent event
O truly blessed Night, sings the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone
deserved to know the time and the hour when Christ rose from the realm of the
dead!512 But no one was an eyewitness to Christ's Resurrection and no
evangelist describes it. No one can say how it came about physically. Still
less was its innermost essence, his passing over to another life, perceptible
to the senses. Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be
verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles'
encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the
mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history. This is
why the risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world, but to his
disciples, "to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who
are now his witnesses to the people."513
RESURRECTION - A WORK OF THE HOLY TRINITY
Christ's Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent
intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine
persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. the
Father's power "raised up" Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly
introduced his Son's humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is
conclusively revealed as "Son of God in power according to the Spirit of
holiness by his Resurrection from the dead".514 St. Paul insists
on the manifestation of God's power515 through the working of the
Spirit who gave life to Jesus' dead humanity and called it to the glorious state
As for the Son, he effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power.
Jesus announces that the Son of man will have to suffer much, die, and then
rise.516 Elsewhere he affirms explicitly: "I lay down my life, that
I may take it again. . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take
it again."517 "We believe that Jesus died and rose
The Fathers contemplate the Resurrection from the perspective of the divine
person of Christ who remained united to his soul and body, even when these were
separated from each other by death: "By the unity of the divine nature,
which remains present in each of the two components of man, these are reunited.
For as death is produced by the separation of the human components, so
Resurrection is achieved by the union of the two."519
MEANING AND SAVING SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION
"If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your
faith is in vain."520 The Resurrection above all constitutes the
confirmation of all Christ's works and teachings. All truths, even those most
inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his
Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he
Christ's Resurrection is the fulfilment of the promises both of the Old
Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life.521 The phrase
"in accordance with the Scriptures"522 indicates that
Christ's Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.
The truth of Jesus' divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection. He had said:
"When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am
he."523 The Resurrection of the crucified one shows that he was
truly "I AM", the Son of God and God himself. So St. Paul could
declare to the Jews: "What God promised to the fathers, this he has
fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the
second psalm, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'"524
Christ's Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God's Son, and is
its fulfilment in accordance with God's eternal plan.
The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from
sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life
is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, "so that as
Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk
in newness of life." Justification consists in both victory over the death
caused by sin and a new participation in grace.526 It brings about
filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called
his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my
brethren."527 We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of
grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the
only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.
Finally, Christ's Resurrection - and the risen Christ himself is the principle
and source of our future resurrection: "Christ has been raised from the
dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. . . For as in Adam all
die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."528 The risen
Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfilment. In
Christ, Christians "have tasted. . . the powers of the age to
come"529 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of
divine life, so that they may "live no longer for themselves but for him
who for their sake died and was raised."530
656 Faith in the Resurrection
has as its object an event which as historically attested to by the disciples,
who really encountered the Risen One. At the same time, this event is
mysteriously transcendent insofar as it is the entry of Christ's humanity into
the glory of God.
657 The empty tomb and the
linen cloths lying there signify in themselves that by God's power Christ's
body had escaped the bonds of death and corruption. They prepared the disciples
to encounter the Risen Lord.
658 Christ, "the
first-born from the dead" (⇒ Col 1:18), is the
principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls
(cf ⇒ Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will
impart to our bodies (cf ⇒ Rom 8:11).
"HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT
THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER"
"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into
heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God."531 Christ's body
was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and
supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.532 But
during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and
teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance
of ordinary humanity.533 Jesus' final apparition ends with the
irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud
and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God's right
hand.534 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show
himself to Paul "as to one untimely born", in a last apparition that
established him as an apostle.535
The veiled character of the glory of the Risen One during this time is
intimated in his mysterious words to Mary Magdalene: "I have not yet
ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending
to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."536 This
indicates a difference in manifestation between the glory of the risen Christ
and that of the Christ exalted to the Father's right hand, a transition marked
by the historical and transcendent event of the Ascension.
This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent
from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who "came from the
Father" can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.537 "No one
has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of
man."538 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have
access to the "Father's house", to God's life and
happiness.539 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his
members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our
Source, has preceded us.540
"and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to
myself."541 The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and
announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it.
Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered,
not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to
appear in the presence of God on our behalf."542 There Christ
permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make
intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him".543
As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the centre and the
principal actor of the liturgy that honours the Father in heaven.544
Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: "By 'the
Father's right hand' we understand the glory and honour of divinity, where he
who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the
Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was
Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the
Messiah's kingdom, the fulfilment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the
Son of man: "To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all
peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an
everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall
not be destroyed."546 After this event the apostles became
witnesses of the "kingdom [that] will have no end".547
665 Christ's Ascension marks
the definitive entrance of Jesus' humanity into God's heavenly domain, whence
he will come again (cf ⇒ Acts 1:11); this
humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf ⇒ Col
666 Jesus Christ, the head of
the Church, precedes us into the Father's glorious kingdom so that we, the
members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.
667 Jesus Christ, having
entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us
as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
"FROM THENCE HE WILL COME AGAlN TO JUDGE
THE LIVING AND THE DEAD"
I. He Will Come Again in Glory
already reigns through the Church. . .
"Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and
of the living."548 Christ's Ascension into heaven signifies his
participation, in his humanity, in God's power and authority. Jesus Christ is
Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is "far above all
rule and authority and power and dominion", for the Father "has put
all things under his feet."549 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of
history. In him human history and indeed all creation are "set forth"
and transcendently fulfilled.550
As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body.551 Taken
up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission,
Christ dwells on earth in his Church. the redemption is the source of the
authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church.
"The kingdom of Christ (is) already present in mystery", "on
earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom".552
Since the Ascension God's plan has entered into its fulfilment. We are already
at "the last hour".553 "Already the final age of the
world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is
even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed
already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect."554 Christ's
kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend
its proclamation by the Church.555
. . . until all things are subjected to him
Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be
fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to
earth.556 This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even
though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover.557
Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens
and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments
and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this
world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures
which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of
God."558 That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist,
to hasten Christ's return by saying to him:559 Maranatha! "Our
Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the
glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel561
which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of
justice, love and peace.562 According to the Lord, the present time is
the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by
"distress" and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church563
and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and
glorious advent of Christ, the hope of Israel
Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent,565 even
though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has
fixed by his own authority."566. This eschatological coming could
be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will
precede it are "delayed".567
The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his
recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part
of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.568 St.
Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore,
and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may
come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed
for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all
that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old."569
St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of
the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"570
The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the
wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",571 will enable the
People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of
Christ", in which "God may be all in all".572
Church's ultimate trial
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that
will shake the faith of many believers.573 The persecution that
accompanies her pilgrimage on earth574 will unveil the "mystery of
iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent
solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. the supreme
religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man
glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time
the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only
be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. the Church has
rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under
the name of millenarianism,576 especially the "intrinsically
perverse" political form of a secular messianism.577
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final
Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and
Resurrection.578 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic
triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's
victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come
down from heaven.579 God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take
the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing
II. To Judge the Living and the Dead
Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced
the judgement of the Last Day in his preaching.581 Then will the
conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.582
Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as
nothing be condemned.583 Our attitude to our neighbour will disclose
acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.584 On the Last Day
Jesus will say: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of
these my brethren, you did it to me."585
Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgement on the
works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He
"acquired" this right by his cross. the Father has given "all
judgement to the Son".586 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but
to save and to give the life he has in himself.587 By rejecting grace
in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one's works,
and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.588
680 Christ the Lord already
reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet
subjected to him. the triumph of Christ's kingdom will not come about without one
last assault by the powers of evil.
681 On Judgement Day at the
end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph
of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together
in the course of history.
682 When he comes at the end
of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the
secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his
works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.
1 ⇒ Gal 4:4-5.
2 ⇒ Mk 1:1.
3 ⇒ Lk
1:5, ⇒ 68.
4 ⇒ Jn 13:3.
5 ⇒ Jn 3:13;
6 ⇒ 1 Jn 4:2.
7 ⇒ Jn 1:14,16.
⇒ Mt 16:16.
⇒ Mt 16:18; St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4 3: PL
54,150 - 152; 51,1: PL 54, 309B; 62, 2: PL 54, 350-351; 83, 3: PL 54, 431-432.
⇒ Eph 3:8.
⇒ Acts 4:20.
12 1 ⇒ Jn 1:1-4.
13 CT 5.
14 CT 5.
15 CT 5.
16 CT 6; cf. ⇒ Jn
⇒ Phil 3:8-11.
18 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:31.
⇒ Mt 1:21; cf.
20 Dt 5:6.
21 Cf. ⇒ Ps 51:4,
⇒ Ps 79:9.
23 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:18;
⇒ Acts 2:21;
⇒ Acts 4:12; cf.
25 Cf. Ex 25:22; ⇒ Lev 16:2,15-16;
50:20; ⇒ Heb 9:5,7.
26 ⇒ 2
27 ⇒ Phil 2:9-10; cf.
⇒ Jn 12:28.
28 Cf. ⇒ Acts 16:16-18;
16:17; ⇒ Jn 15:16.
29 Cf. Ex 29:7; ⇒ Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1;
16:1, 12-13; ⇒ I Kings 1:39;
30 Cf. ⇒ Acts
31 Cf. ⇒ Is 11:2;
4:14; ⇒ 6:13;
⇒ Lk 4:16-21.
32 ⇒ Lk 2:11.
33 ⇒ Jn 10:36; cf.
⇒ Lk 1:35.
⇒ 2 Tim
2:8; ⇒ Rev 22:16.
35 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,18,3: PG 7/1, 934.
36 ⇒ Acts 10:38;
⇒ Jn 1:31.
37 ⇒ Mk 1:24;
38 Cf ⇒ Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22;
39 Cf. ⇒ Jn 4:25-26;
22:41-46; ⇒ Lk 24:21.
40 Cf. ⇒ Mt 16:16-23.
41 ⇒ Jn 3:13;
6:62; ⇒ Dan 7:13;
⇒ Is 53:10-12.
42 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:19-22;
⇒ Lk 23:39-43.
⇒ Acts 2:36.
44 Cf. Dt 14:1; (LXX) 32:8; ⇒ Job 1:6; Ex
4:22; ⇒ Hos 2:1;
⇒ Jer 3:19;
⇒ Sir 36:11; Wis 18:13; 2 Sam 7:14;
⇒ Ps 82:6.
45 Cf. I Chr 17:13; ⇒ Ps 2:7;
⇒ Mt 16:16-17.
47 ⇒ Gal 1:15-16.
48 ⇒ Acts 9:20.
49 Cf. I Th 1:10; ⇒ Jn 20:31;
⇒ Mt 16:18.
50 ⇒ Lk 22:70; cf.
51 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:27;
52 ⇒ Mt 5:48;
11:13; ⇒ Jn 20:17.
53 Cf. ⇒ Mt 3:17; cf.
54 ⇒ Jn 3:16; cf.
55 ⇒ Jn 3:18.
56 ⇒ Mk 15:39.
⇒ Acts 13:33.
58 ⇒ Jn 1:14.
59 Cf. Ex 3:14.
60 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 2:8.
61 Cf. ⇒ Mt
22:41-46; cf. ⇒ Acts
2:34-36; ⇒ Jn
62 Cf ⇒ Mt 8:2;
⇒ 15:22; et al.
63 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:43;
64 ⇒ Jn 20:28,
65 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:34 - 36;
⇒ Titus 2:13;
⇒ Phil 2:6.
66 Cf. ⇒ Rom 10:9;
67 Cf. ⇒ Rev 11:15;
68 GS 10 # 3; Cf. 45 # 2.
69 ⇒ I Cor 16:22;
⇒ Rev 22:20.
70 I ⇒ Jn 4:10;
71 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. catech 15: PG 45, 48B.
72 ⇒ I Jn 4:9.
73 ⇒ Jn 3:16.
74 ⇒ Mt 11:29;
⇒ Jn 14:6.
75 ⇒ Mk 9:7; cf. Dt 6:4-5.
76 ⇒ Jn 15:12.
77 Cf. ⇒ Mk 8:34.
78 ⇒ 2 Pt 1:4.
79 St. Irenaeus,
Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.
80 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B.
81 St. Thomas
Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.
82 ⇒ Jn 1:14.
83 ⇒ Phil 2:5-8; cf. LH, Saturday,
Canticle at Evening Prayer.
84 ]⇒ Heb 10:5-7, citing Ps 40:6-8 (7-9 LXX).
85 I ⇒ Jn 4:2.
86 1 Tim 3:16.
87 Cf. ⇒ I Jn 4:2-3;
⇒ Jn 7.
88 Council of
Nicaea I (325): DS 130, 126.
89 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 250.
90 Council of Ephesus: DS 251.
91 Council of Chalcedon (451): DS 301; cf. ⇒ Heb
92 Council of Chalcedon: DS 302.
93 Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 424.
94 Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 432; cf. DS 424; Council of Ephesus, DS 255.
95 LH, 1 January, Antiphon for Morning Prayer; cf. St. Leo the Great,
Sermo in nat. Dom. 1, 2; PL 54, 191-192.
96 Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Troparion O monogenes.
97 GS 22 # 2.
98 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:9-10.
99 GS 22 # 2.
100 Cf. Damasus 1: DS 149.
101 ⇒ Lk 2:52.
102 Cf. ⇒ Mk 6 38;
⇒ Phil 2:7.
104 Cf. St.
Gregory the Great, "Sicut aqua" ad Eulogium, Epist. Lib. 10, 39 PL 77, 1097 Aff.; DS 475.
105 St. Maximus the Confessor, Qu. et dub. 66 PG 90, 840A.
106 Cf. ⇒ Mk 14:36;
1:18; 8:55; etc.
107 Cf. ⇒ Mk 2:8;
⇒ Jn 2 25;
⇒ 6:61; etc.
108 Cf. ⇒ Mk 8:31;
109 Cf. ⇒ Mk 13:32,
110 Cf. Council of Constantinople III (681): DS 556-559.
111 Council of Constantinople III: DS 556.
112 Cf. Council of the Lateran (649): DS 504.
113 Cf. Cal 3:1; cf. Council of Nicaea II (787): DS 600-603.
114 Roman Missal, Preface of Christmas I.
115 Council of Nicaea II: DS 601.
116 Cal 2:20.
117 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:34.
118 Pius XII, Enc. Haurietis aquas (1956): DS 3924; cf. DS 3812.
119 ⇒ Gal 4:4.
120 ⇒ Col 2:9.
121 Lk 1:34-35 (Greek).
122 Cf. ⇒ Jn
123 Cf. ⇒ Mt 1:20;
⇒ Lk 1:35;
1:3 ⇒ 1-34;
124 ⇒ Acts 10:38.
125 ⇒ Heb
126 ⇒ Lk 1:26-27.
127 LG 56; cf. LG 61.
129 Cf. ⇒ Gen 18:10-14;
131 LG 55.
132 LG 56.
133 ⇒ Lk 1:28.
⇒ Lk 1:28.
135 Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): DS 2803.
136 LG 53, 56.
137 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:3-4.
138 LG 56.
139 ⇒ Rom 1:5.
140 Cf. LG 56.
141 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959A.
142 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959A.
143 LC 56;
St. Epiphanius, Panarion 2, 78, 18: PG 42, 728CD-729AB; St. Jerome, Ep. 22, 21: PL 22, 408.
144 ⇒ Lk 1:43;
cf. ⇒ Mt
13:55; et al.
of Ephesus (431): DS 251.
146 Council of the Lateran (649): DS 503; cf. DS 10-64.
147 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn 1-2: Apostolic Fathers, ed. J.
B. Lightfoot (London: Macmillan, 1889), 11/2, 289-293; SCh 10,
154-156; cf. ⇒ Jn
148 ⇒ Lk
⇒ Mt 1:20.
150 Is 7:14
(LXX), quoted in Mt 1:23 (Greek).
151 Cf. St. Justin,
Dial. 99, 7: PG 6, 708-709; Origen, Contra Celsum 1, 32, 69: PG 11, 720-721; et
Filius 4: DS 3016.
153 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 19, 1: AF 11/2 76-80: cf. I Cor
154 Cf. DS 291; 294; 427; 442; 503; 571; 1880.
155 LG 57.
156 Cf. LG 52.
157 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:31-35;
⇒ I Cor
9:5; ⇒ Gal 1:19.
158 ⇒ Mt 13:55;
⇒ Mt 27:56.
159 Cf. ⇒ Gen 13:8;
⇒ 29:15; etc.
160 LG 63; cf. ⇒ Jn 19:26-27;
⇒ Rev 12:17.
of Friuli (796): DS 619; cf. ⇒ Lk 2:48-49.
162 ⇒ 47.
163 ⇒ Jn 3:34.
164 ⇒ Jn 1:16; cf.
⇒ Col 1:18.
165 ⇒ Lk 1:34; cf.
⇒ Jn 3:9[ETML:C/].
166 ⇒ Jn 1:13.
167 Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 11:2.
168 LG 63; cf. l Cor 7:34-35.
169 St. Augustine,
De virg. 3: PL 40, 398.
170 LG 64; cf. 63.
172 Cf. ⇒ Jn 20:30.
173 ⇒ Jn 20:31.
174 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:1;
⇒ Jn 21:24.
175 Cf ⇒ Lk 2:7;
176 ⇒ Col 2:9.
177 ⇒ Jn 14:9;
⇒ Mt 17:5;
⇒ Mk 9:7, "my beloved Son".
178 ⇒ Jn 4:9[ETML:C/].
179 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:7;
⇒ 2 Pt
⇒ 2 Cor 8:9.
181 Cf. ⇒ Lk
182 Cf. ⇒ Jn 15:3.
183 ⇒ Mt 8:17; cf.
⇒ Is 53:4.
⇒ Rom 4:25.
185 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 18, 1: PG 7/1, 932.
186 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 18, 7: PG 7/1, 937; cf. 2, 22, 4.
187 John Paul II, RH II.
188 I Cor 15:3; ⇒ Rom 4:25.
189 I ⇒ Heb
⇒ Heb 9:24.
191 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5;
⇒ Phil 2:5.
192 Cf. ⇒ Jn 13:15;
193 GS 22 #
194 St. John Eudes: LH, week 33, Friday, OR.
⇒ Heb 9:15.
196 Cf. ⇒ Acts 13:24;
⇒ Mt 3:3[ETML:C/].
197 ⇒ Lk 1:76; cf.
198 ⇒ Jn 1 29; cf.
1:41; ⇒ 16:16;
⇒ Jn 3:29.
199 ⇒ Lk 1:17; cf.
⇒ Mk 6:17-29.
200 Cf ⇒ Rev 22:17.
201 ⇒ Jn 3:30.
202 Cf. Lk 2:61.
203 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:8-20.
of Romanos the Melodist.
205 Cf. ⇒ Mt 18:3-4.
206 ⇒ Jn 3 7;
⇒ Mt 23:12.
⇒ Gal 4:19.
208 LH, 1 January, Antiphon I of Evening Prayer.
209 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:21.
⇒ Gal 4:4.
211 Cf. ⇒ Col 2:11-13.
⇒ Mt 2:1; cf. LH, Epiphany, Evening Prayer II,
Antiphon at the Canticle of Mary.
213 Cf ⇒ Mt 2:2;
214 Cf ⇒ Jn 4 22;
⇒ Mt 2:4-6.
215 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 3 in epiphania Domini 1-3, 5: PL 54,
242; LH, Epiphany, OR; Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 26, Prayer after the
⇒ Lk 2:22-39; EX 13:2, 12-13.
217 Cf. ⇒ Mt 2:13-18.
218 ⇒ Jn 1:11.
219 Cf. ⇒ Jn 15:20.
220 Cf. ⇒ Hos
221 Cf. ⇒ Gal 4:4.
222 ⇒ Lk 2:51-52.
223 ⇒ Lk 22:42.
224 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:19.
225 Paul VI
at Nazareth, 5 January 1964: LH, Feast of the Holy Family, OR.
226 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:41-52.
⇒ Lk 2:49 alt.
228 Cf. ⇒ Lk 3:23;
⇒ Acts 1:22.
229 ⇒ Lk 3:3[ETML:C/].
230 Cf. ⇒ Lk 3:10-14;
231 ⇒ Mt 3:13-17.
232 ⇒ Jn 1:29; cf.
⇒ Is 53:12.
233 Cf. ⇒ Lk
234 ⇒ Mt 3:15; cf.
235 Cf. ⇒ Lk 3:22;
⇒ Is 42:1.
236 ⇒ Jn 1:32-33; cf.
⇒ Is 11:2.
237 ⇒ Mt 3:16.
⇒ Rom 6:4.
Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 9: PG 36, 369.
240 St. Hilary of Poitiers, In Matth. 2, 5: PL 9, 927.
241 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:12-13.
242 ⇒ Lk 4:13.
243 Cf. ⇒ Ps 95:10;
⇒ Mk 3:27
244 Cf ⇒ Mt 16:2
⇒ Heb 4:15.
246 ⇒ Mk 1:14-15.
247 LG 3.
248 LG 2.
249 LG 5.
250 ⇒ Jn 12:32; cf. LG 3.
251 Cf. ⇒ Mt 8:11
252 LC 5; cf.
⇒ Mk 4:14,
253 ⇒ 7:22.
⇒ Mt 5:3[ETML:C/].
255 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:25.
256 Cf. ⇒ Mt 21:18;
⇒ Jn 4:6
1; ⇒ 19:28;
⇒ Lk 9:58.
257 Cf. ⇒ Mt 25:31-46.
258 ⇒ l Tim
259 ⇒ Lk 15:7; cf.
⇒ Mt 26:28.
261 Cf. ⇒ Mk 4:33-34.
262 Cf. ⇒ Mt 13:44-45;
263 Cf. ⇒ Mt 21:28-32.
264 Cf. ⇒ Mt 13:3-9.
265 Cf. ⇒ Mt 25:14-30.
266 ⇒ Mt 13:11.
267 ⇒ Mk 4:11; cf.
⇒ Mt 13:10-15.
269 cf. ⇒ Jn 5:36;
270 Cf. ⇒ Mk 5:25-34;
⇒ 10:52; etc.
271 Cf. ⇒ Jn 10:31-38.
272 ⇒ Mt 11:6.
273 Cf. ⇒ Jn 11:47-48;
⇒ Mk 3:22.
274 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:5-15;
275 Cf. ⇒ Lk 12 13-14;
⇒ Jn 18:36.
276 Cf. ⇒ Jn 8:34-36.
277 ⇒ Mt 12:26,
278 ⇒ Jn 12:31; cf.
⇒ Lk 8:26-39.
279 LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis: Regnavit
a ligno Deus.
280 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:13-19.
281 ⇒ Lk 9:2[ETML:C/].
282 ⇒ Lk 22:29-30.
283 Cf ⇒ Mk 3:16; 9:2;
⇒ Lk 24:34; I Cor 15:5.
⇒ Mt 16:18.
285 I Pt 2:4.
286 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:32.
287 ⇒ Mt 16:19.
288 ⇒ Jn 21:15-17; Cf.
289 Cf. ⇒ Mt 18:18.
290 ⇒ Mt 16:21.
291 Cf. ⇒ Mt 16:22-23;
292 Cf. ⇒ Mt 17:1-8 and parallels;
⇒ 2 Pt 1:16-18.
293 ⇒ Lk 9:31.
294 ⇒ Lk 9:35.
295 ⇒ Lk 24:26.
296 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:27.
297 Cf. Is 42:1.
Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.
299 Byzantine Liturgy, Feast of the Transfiguration, Kontakion.
300 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.
⇒ Phil 3:21.
⇒ Acts 14:22.
303 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; cf.
⇒ Lk 9:33.
304 ⇒ Lk 9:51; cf.
⇒ Jn 13:1.
305 ⇒ Lk 13:33; cf.
⇒ Mk 8:31-33;
⇒ Mt 23:37.
307 ⇒ Lk 19:41-42.
308 ⇒ Lk 1:32; cf.
309 ⇒ Ps 24:7-10;
⇒ Zech 9:9.
310 Cf. ⇒ Jn 18:37.
311 Cf. ⇒ Mt 21:15-16; cf.
19:38; ⇒ 2:14.
⇒ Ps 118:26.
⇒ Heb 9:26.
314 ⇒ Lk 24:26-27,
315 ⇒ Mk 8:31;
⇒ Mt 20:19.
316 Cf. DV 19.
317 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:6; 14:1.
318 Cf. ⇒ Mt 12:24;
⇒ Mk 2:7,
319 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:22;
⇒ Jn 8:48; 10:20.
320 Cf. ⇒ Mk 2:7;
⇒ Jn 5:18;
321 ⇒ Lk 2:34.
322 Cf. ⇒ Jn 1:19;
323 ⇒ Jn 7:48-49.
324 Cf ⇒ Lk 13:31.
325 Cf. ⇒ Lk 7:36;
326 Cf. ⇒ Mt 22:23-34;
⇒ Lk 20:39.
327 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:18.
328 Cf. ⇒ Mk 12:28-34.
329 ⇒ Mt
330 ⇒ Mt 5:19.
331 Cf. ⇒ Jn 8:46.
332 Cf. ⇒ Jn
7:19; ⇒ Acts 13:38-41;
333 ⇒ Jas 2:10; cf.
⇒ Rom 10:2.
335 Cf. ⇒ Mt 15:31;
⇒ Lk 11:39-54.
336 Cf ⇒ Is 53:11;
⇒ Heb 9:15.
337 Cf. ⇒ Gal 4:4.
338 ⇒ Is
339 ⇒ Gal 3:13;
⇒ Heb 9:15.
340 Cf ⇒ Jn 11:28;
22:23-24, ⇒ 34-36.
341 Cf. ⇒ Mt 12:5;
2:23-27; ⇒ Lk 6:6-g;
⇒ Jn 7:22-23.
⇒ Mt 7:28-29.
343 Cf. ⇒ Mt 5:1[ETML:C/].
344 ⇒ Mt 5:33-34.
345 ⇒ Mk 7:13; cf.
346 ⇒ Mk 7:18-21; cf.
⇒ Gal 3:24.
347 Cf. ⇒ Jn 5:36;
348 Cf. ⇒ Num 28 9;
2:25-27; ⇒ Lk 13:15-16;
349 ⇒ Lk 2:22-39.
350 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2 46-49.
351 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2 41.
352 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2 13-14;
⇒ 8 2;
353 Cf. ⇒ Mt 21:13.
354 ⇒ Ps
355 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:46;
⇒ 21; etc.
356 Cf. ⇒ Mt 24:1-2.
357 Cf. ⇒ Mt 24:3;
⇒ Lk 13:35.
358 Cf ⇒ Mk 14:57-58;
⇒ Mt 27 39-40.
359 Cf. ⇒ Mt 8:4;
17:14; ⇒ Jn 4:22;
360 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2:21;
⇒ Mt 12:6.
361 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2:18-22.
362 ⇒ Jn 4:21; cf.
27:5; ⇒ Rev
363 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:34;
364 Cf. ⇒ Lk 5:30;
365 ⇒ 5:32;
cf. ⇒ Jn 7:49;
366 Cf. ⇒ Jn 8:33-36;
367 Cf. ⇒ Mt 9:13;
⇒ Hos 6:6.
368 Cf. ⇒ Lk 15:1-2,
⇒ Mk 2:7[ETML:C/].
370 Cf. ⇒ Jn 5:18;
371 Cf. ⇒ Mt 12:6,
372 ⇒ Jn 8:58;
373 ⇒ Jn 10:36-38.
374 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:7;
375 Cf. ⇒ Is 53:1.
376 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:6;
⇒ Mt 26:64-66.
377 Cf. ⇒ Lk 23 34;
3:5; ⇒ Rom 11:25,
378 ⇒ Jn 12:42; cf.
⇒ Acts 6:7;
380 cf. ⇒ Jn 9:16;
381 Cf ⇒ Jn 9:22.
382 ⇒ Jn 11:48-50.
383 Cf. ⇒ Mt 26:66;
23:2, ⇒ 19.
384 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:12,
385 Cf. ⇒ Acts
2:23, ⇒ 36;
⇒ I Th
386 Cf. ⇒ Lk 23:34;
⇒ Acts 3:17.
387 ⇒ Mt 27:25; cf.
⇒ Acts 5:28;
388 NA 4.
389 Roman Catechism I, 5, 11; cf. ⇒ Heb 12:3.
390 Cf. ⇒ Mt
25:45; ⇒ Acts 9:4-5.
391 Roman Catechism
I, 5, 11; cf. ⇒ Heb
6:6; ⇒ 1 Cor 2:8.
392 St. Francis of Assisi, Admonitio 5, 3.
393 ⇒ Acts 2:23.
394 Cf. ⇒ Acts 3:13.
395 ⇒ Ps 2:1-2.
396 Cf. ⇒ Mt 26:54;
⇒ Jn 18:36;
397 ⇒ Is 53:11; cf.
⇒ Jn 8
34-36; ⇒ Acts 3:14.
398 ⇒ 1 Cor 15:3; cf. also
⇒ Acts 3:18;
400 Cf. ⇒ Mt 20:28.
401 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:25-27,
402 I Pt 1:18-20.
403 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:12;
⇒ I Cor 15:56.
404 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:21; cf.
⇒ Rom 8:3.
405 Cf. ⇒ Jn 8:46.
406 ⇒ Mk 15:34;
407 ⇒ Rom 8:32;
408 ⇒ I John 4:10;
⇒ Rom 5:8.
⇒ Mt 18:14.
411 ⇒ Rom
412 Council of Quiercy (853): DS 624; cf. ⇒ 2
Cor 5:15; I ⇒ Jn 2:2[ETML:C/].
413 ⇒ Jn 6:38.
⇒ Heb 10:5-10.
415 ⇒ Jn 4:34.
416 1 ⇒ Jn 2:2[ETML:C/].
417 ⇒ 14:31.
418 Cf ⇒ Lk 12:50;
419 ⇒ Jn 12:27.
420 ⇒ Jn 18:11.
421 ⇒ Jn 19:30;
422 ⇒ Jn 1:29; cf.
3:14-15; ⇒ Jn 1:36.
423 ⇒ Is 53:7,
12:3-14; ⇒ Jn 19:36;
⇒ 1 Cor 5:7.
424 ⇒ Mk 10:45.
425 ⇒ 15:13.
426 Cf. ⇒ Heb 2:10,
427 ⇒ Jn 10:18.
428 Cf. ⇒ Jn 18:4-6;
⇒ Mt 26:53.
429 Roman Missal,
EP III; cf. ⇒ Mt
26:20; ⇒ I Cor 11:23.
430 ⇒ Lk 22:19;
⇒ Mt 26:28; cf.
⇒ I5.7Cor 5:7.
⇒ 1 Cor 11:25.
432 Cf. ⇒ Lk
433 ⇒ Jn 17:19; cf. Council of
Trent: DS 1752; 1764.
434 Cf. ⇒ Mt 26:42;
⇒ Lk 22:20.
435 ⇒ Phil 2:8;
436 Cf. ⇒ Heb
437 Cf. ⇒ Acts 3:15;
⇒ Jn 1:4;
438 2 Pt 224; cf. ⇒ Mt 26:42.
439 ⇒ Jn 1:29; cf.
⇒ 1 Cor
5:7; ⇒ 2 Pt 1:19.
24:8; ⇒ 2 Cor
441 Cf. ⇒ Heb 10:10.
442 Cf. ⇒ 15:13;
⇒ 1 Jn 4:10.
⇒ Rom 5:19.
⇒ Is 53:10-12.
445 Cf. Council
of Trent (1547): DS 1529.
446 ⇒ Jn 13:1.
447 Cf. ⇒ Eph
5:2, ⇒ 25.
448 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:14.
449 ⇒ Heb 5:9.
450 Council of Trent: DS 1529.
451 LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis.
452 1 Tim 2:5.
453 GS 22 # 5; cf. # 2.
454 ⇒ Mt 16:24.
455 I Pt 2:21.
456 Cf ⇒ Mk 10:39;
457 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:35.
458 St. Rose of Lima: cf. P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).
459 ⇒ Heb 2:9.
460 ⇒ I Cor 15:3.
461 Cf. ⇒ Jn
462 Cf. ⇒ Heb 4:7-9.
463 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:30.
464 Cf ⇒ Col 1: 18-20.
465 ⇒ Rev 1:18.
466 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. catech. 16: PG 45, 52D.
467 ⇒ Acts 3:15.
468 ⇒ Lk 24:5-6.
469 St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 27: PG 94, 1097.
470 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.
⇒ Is 53:8.
⇒ Ps 16:9-10.
473 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 15:4;
12:40; ⇒ Hos
6:2; cf. ⇒ Jn
⇒ Col 2:12;
⇒ Eph 5:26.
475 ⇒ Eph 4:9-10.
476 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 18, Exsultet.
477 ⇒ Rom
8:11; ⇒ Heb 13:20.
478 Cf. ⇒ I
479 Cf. ⇒ Phil 2:10;
1:18; ⇒ Pss
6:6; ⇒ 88:11-13.
480 Cf. ⇒ Ps 89:49;
⇒ I Sam 28:19;
481 Roman Catechism
1, 6, 3.
Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement
VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; ⇒ Mt 27:52-53.
483 ⇒ I Pt 4:6.
484 ⇒ Jn 5:25; cf.
10:7; ⇒ Eph 4:9.
2:14-15; cf. ⇒ Acts
486 ⇒ Phil
487 Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR.
488 ⇒ Acts 13:32-33.
489 Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion of Easter.
⇒ I Cor 15:3-4.
491 Cf. ⇒ Acts
492 ⇒ Lk 24:5-6.
493 Cf. ⇒ Jn 20:13;
⇒ Mt 28:11-15.
494 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:3,
495 ⇒ Jn 20:2,
496 Cf. ⇒ 20:5-7.
497 ⇒ Mk 16:1;
19:31, ⇒ 42.
498 Cf ⇒ Lk 24:9-10;
499 Cf I Cor 15:5; ⇒ Lk 22:31-32.
500 ⇒ Lk 24:34,
501 ⇒ I Cor 15:4-8; cf.
⇒ Acts 1:22.
502 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:31-32.
503 1 ⇒ Lk 24:17; cf.
⇒ Jn 20:19.
504 ⇒ Lk 24:11; cf.
⇒ Mk 16:11,
505 ⇒ Mk
506 ⇒ Lk 24:38-41.
507 Cf ⇒ Jn 20:24-27;
⇒ Mt 28:17.
508 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:30,
20:20, ⇒ 27;
509 Cf. ⇒ Mt 28:9,
24:15, ⇒ 36;
⇒ Jn 20:14,
510 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:12;
⇒ Jn 20:14-16;
⇒ 21:4, 7.
511 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 15:35-50.
512 O vere beata nox, quae sola meruit scire tempus et horam, in qua Christus ab inferis resurrexit!
⇒ Acts 13:31; cf.
⇒ Jn 14:22.
514 ⇒ Rom I 3-4; cf.
⇒ Acts 2:24.
515 Cf. ⇒ Rom 6:4;
3:10; ⇒ Eph 1:19-22;
⇒ Heb 7:16.
516 Cf. ⇒ Mk 8:31;
517 ⇒ Jn 10:17-18.
518 ⇒ I Th 4:14.
519 St. Gregory of Nyssa, In Christi res. Orat. I: PG 46, 617B; cf.
also DS 325; 359; 369.
⇒ I Cor 15:14.
521 Cf. ⇒ Mt
28:6; ⇒ Mk 16:7;
⇒ Lk 24:6-7,
⇒ I Cor 15:3-4; cf. the Nicene Creed.
523 ⇒ Jn 8:28.
524 ⇒ Ps 2:7[ETML:C/].
526 Cf. ⇒ Eph 2:4-5;
⇒ I Pt 1:3.
527 ⇒ Mt 28:10;
⇒ Jn 20:17.
528 ⇒ I Cor 15:20-22.
529 ⇒ Heb 6:5.
530 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:15; cf.
531 ⇒ Mk 16:19.
532 Cf ⇒ Lk 24:31;
533 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:3;
16:12; ⇒ Lk 24:15;
⇒ Jn 20:14-15;
534 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:9;
9:34-35; ⇒ 24:51;
16:19; ⇒ Ps 110:1.
535 ⇒ 1 Cor 15:8; cf.
⇒ Gal 1:16.
536 ⇒ Jn 20:17.
537 Cf. ⇒ Jn 16:28.
538 ⇒ Eph
539 ⇒ Jn 14:2.
540 Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc
confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.
541 ⇒ Jn 12:32.
⇒ Heb 9:24.
543 ⇒ Heb 7:25.
544 ⇒ Rev 4:6-11.
545 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 4, 2: PG 94, 1104C.
546 ⇒ Dan 7:14.
547 Nicene Creed.
548 ⇒ Rom 14:9.
549 ⇒ Eph 1:20-22.
550 ⇒ Eph 1:10; cf.
⇒ 1 Cor
15:24, ⇒ 27-28.
551 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:22.
552 LG 3; 5; cf. ⇒ Eph 4:11-13.
553 I ⇒ Jn 2:18; cf.
⇒ I Pt 4:7.
554 LG 48 # 3; cf. ⇒ I Cor 10:11.
555 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:17-18,
556 ⇒ Mt
⇒ 2 Th 2:7.
558 LG 48 # 3; cf. ⇒ 2 Pt 3:13;
559 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 11:26;
⇒ 2 Pt 3:11-12.
560 ⇒ 1 Cor 16:22;
561 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:6-7.
562 Cf. ⇒ Is 11:1-9.
563 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:8;
5:16; ⇒ I Pt 4:17.
564 Cf. ⇒ Mt 25:1, 13;
Jn 2:18; ⇒ 4:3;
⇒ I Tim 4:1.
565 Cf. ⇒ Rev 22:20.
566 ⇒ Acts 1:7; Cf.
⇒ Mk 13:32.
567 Cf. ⇒ Mt 24:44;
⇒ 2 Th
568 ⇒ Mt
⇒ Acts 3:19-21.
570 ⇒ Rom
571 ⇒ Rom 11:12,
⇒ Lk 21:24.
572 ⇒ I
573 Cf. ⇒ Lk 18:8;
⇒ Mt 24:12.
574 Cf. ⇒ Lk 21:12;
⇒ Jn 15:19-20.
575 Cf. ⇒ 2 Th 2:4-12;
7; ⇒ I Jn 2:1
8, ⇒ 22.
576 Cf. DS 3839.
577 Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false
mysticism" of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS
578 Cf. ⇒ Rev 19:1-9.
579 Cf ⇒ Rev 13:8;
580 Cf. ⇒ Rev 20:12
⇒ 2 Pt 3:12-13.
581 Cf. ⇒ Dan 7:10;
3: 19; ⇒ Mt 3:7-12.
582 Cf ⇒ Lk
12:1-3; ⇒ Jn 3:20-21;
⇒ I Cor
583 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:20-24;
584 Cf. ⇒ Mt
5:22; ⇒ 7:1-5.
585 ⇒ Mt 25:40.
586 ⇒ 5:27;
10:42; ⇒ 17:31;
⇒ 2 Tim 4:1.
587 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:17;
588 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:18;
12:32; ⇒ I Cor 3:12-15;
⇒ Heb 6:4-6;
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