Catechism Cath. Church 531

The mysteries of Jesus' hidden life

531 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 man."(222)

532 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 had destroyed.(224)

533 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)

534 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 ordinary life.

Ga 4,4
222 Lc 2,51-52
223 Lc 22,42
224 Rm 5,19
225 Paul VI at Nazareth, 5 January 1964: LH, Feast of the Holy Family, OR.
226 Lc 2,41-52
227 Lc 2,49 alt.


The baptism of Jesus

535 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 sinners(230) - 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.

Lc 3,23 Ac 1,22 229 Lc 3,3.
230 Lc 3,10-14 Mt 3,7 Mt 21,32.
231 Mt 3,13-17

536 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.

Jn 1,29 Is 53,12 233 Mc 10,38 Lc 12,50
234 Mt 3,15 Mt 26,39.
235 Lc 3,22 Is 42,1
236 Jn 1,32-33 Is 11,2
237 Mt 3,16

537 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 of life":(238) 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)

Rm 6,4
239 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 9: PG 36, 369.
240 St. Hilary of Poitiers, In Matth. 2, 5: PL 9, 927.

Jesus' temptations

538 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 time".(242)

Mc 1,12-13 242 Lc 4,13

539 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 Father.

Ps 95,10 Mc 3,27

540 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.

Mt 16,21-23 245 He 4,15

"The kingdom of God is at hand"

541 "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)

542 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)

Mc 1,14-15
247 LG 3
248 LG 2
249 LG 5
250 Jn 12,32 LG 3

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 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 harvest.(252)

544 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)

545 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)

546 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)

Mt 8,11 Mt 10,5-7 Mt 28,19.
252 Lc 5 Mc 4,26-29 Lc 12,32
253 Lc 4,18 Lc 7,22.
254 Mt 5,3
255 Mt 11,25
256 Mt 21,18 Mc 2,23-26 Jn 4,6 Jn 19,28 Lc 9,58
257 Mt 25,31-46
258 Mc 2,17 1Tm 1,15.
259 Lc 15,7 Lc 7,11-32.
260 Mt 26,28 261 Mc 4,33-34
262 Mt 13,44-45 Mt 22,1-14 263 Mt 21,28-32 264 Mt 13,3-9
265 Mt 25,14-30 266 Mt 13,11 267 Mc 4,11 Mt 13,10-15

The signs of the kingdom of God

547 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)

548 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 demons.(273)

549 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)

550 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)

Ac 2,22 Lc 7,18-23 269 Jn 5,36 Jn 10,25-38. 270 Mc 5,25-34 Mc 10,52
271 Jn 10,31-38 272 Mt 11,6 273 Jn 11,47-48 Mc 3,22 274 Jn 6,5-15 Lc 19,8 Mt 11,5
275 Lc 12,13-14 Jn 18,36
276 Jn 8,34-36
277 Mt 12,26, 278 Jn 12,31 Lc 8,26-39 279 LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis: Regnavit a ligno Deus.

"The keys of the kingdom"

551 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 Israel.(282)

552 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)

553 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 apostles(289) and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.
Mc 3,13-19 281 Lc 9,2
282 Lc 22,29-30 283 Mc 3,16 Mc 9,2 Lc 24,34 1Co 15,5 284 Mt 16,18
285 1P 2,4 286 Lc 22,32 287 Mt 16,19
288 Jn 21,15-17 Jn 10,11.
289 Mt 18,18

A foretaste of the kingdom: the Transfiguration

554 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)

555 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 cloud."(298)

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)

556 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 to suffer?"(303)

Mt 16,21
291 Mt 16,22-23 Mt 17,23 Lc 9,45 292 Mt 17,1-8 and parallels; 2P 2P 1,16-18 293 Lc 9,31 294 Lc 9,35 295 Lc 24,26 296 Lc 24,27 297 Is 42,1 298 St. 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.
301 Ph 3,21
302 Ac 14,22
303 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; Lc 9,33

Jesus' ascent to Jerusalem

557 "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)

558 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)

Lc 9,51 Jn 13,1
305 Lc 13,33 Mc 8,31-33 Mc 9,31-32 Mc 10,32-34.
306 Mt 23,37
307 Lc 19,41-42

Jesus' messianic entrance into Jerusalem

559 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.

Lc 1,32 Mt 21,1-11 Jn 6,15
309 Ps 24,7-10 Za 9,9. 310 Jn 18,37 311 Mt 21,15-16 Ps 8,3 Lc 19,38 Lc 2,14.

560 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, CTR 9).

562 Christ's disciples are to conform themselves to him until he is formed in them (cf. Ga 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. He 12,3).

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.
Ps 118,26


571 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.

572 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)

He 9,26
314 Lc 24,26-27,44, 315 Mc 8,31 Mt 20,19

573 Faith can therefore try to examine the circumstances of Jesus' death, faithfully handed on by the Gospels(316) and illuminated by other historical sources, the better to understand the meaning of the Redemption.

DV 19

Paragraph 1. Jesus and Israel

574 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 sinners(318)--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)

Mc 3,6 Mc 14,1.
318 Mt 12,24 Mc 2,7.
319 Mc 3,22 Jn 8,48 Jn 10,20.
320 Mc 2,7 Jn 5,18 Jn 7,12 Jn 7,52 Jn 8,59 Jn 10,31-33.

575 Many 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 Mc 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 and neighbour.(328)

321 Lc 2,34 322 Jn 1,19 Jn 2,18 Jn 5,10 Jn 7,13 Jn 9,22 Jn 18,12 Jn 19,38 Jn 20,19.
323 Jn 7,48-49 324 Lc 13,31 325 Lc 7,36 Lc 14,1.
326 Mt 22,23-34 Lc 20,39
327 Mt 6,18
328 Mc 12,28-34

576 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.


577 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)

578 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)

579 This 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)

580 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)

581 The 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)

582 Going 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.

Mt 5,17-19 330 Mt 5,19
331 Jn 8,46 332 Jn 7,19 Ac 13,38-41 Ac 15,10. 333 Jc 2,10 Ga 3,10 Ga 5,3.
334 Rm 10,2 335 Mt 15,31 Lc 11,39-54 336 Is 53,11 He 9,15
337 Ga 4,4
338 Jr 31,33 Is 42,3,
339 Ga 3,13 Ga 3,10 He 9,15
340 Jn 11,28 Jn 3,2 Mt 22,23-24,34,
341 Mt 12,5 Mt 9,12 Mc 2,23-27 Jn 7,22-23 342 Mt 7,28-29
343 Mt 5,1
344 Mt 5,33-34 345 Mc 7,13 Mc 3,8.
346 Mc 7,18-21 Ga 3,24 347 Jn 5,36 Jn 10,25 Jn 10,37-38 Jn 12,37.
348 Cf. Nb 28,9 Mt 12,5 Mc 2,25-27 Lc 13,15-16 Lc 14,3-4 Jn 7,22-24


583 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)

Lc 2,22-39
350 Lc 2 Lc 46-49
351 Lc 2 Lc 41
352 Jn 2,13-14 Jn 5,1-14 Jn 7,1-14 Jn 8,2 Jn 10,22-23.

584 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)

Mt 21,13 354 Jn 2,16-17 Ps 69,10 355 Ac 2,46 Ac 3,1 Ac 5,20-21

585 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)

586 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 death(361) 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 Father."(362)

Mt 24,1-2
357 Mt 24,3 Lc 13,35
358 Mc 14,57-58 Mt 27 Mt 39-40
359 Mt 8,4 Mt 16,18 Mt 17,24-27 Lc 17,14 Jn 4,22 Jn 18,20.
360 Jn 2,21 Mt 12,6
361 Jn 2,18-22
362 Jn 4,21 Jn 4,23-24 Mt 27,5 He 9,11 Ap 21,22

Catechism Cath. Church 531