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Catechism of the Catholic Church

I. CHRIST'S WHOLE LIFE IS MYSTERY

514 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 name." 173

515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith 174 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 mission

Characteristics common to Jesus' mysteries

516 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 us". 178

517 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

518 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 all men. 186

Our communion in the mysteries of Jesus

519 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

520 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

521 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

Notes:

172 Cf. Jn 20:30.

173 Jn 20:31.

174 Cf. Mk 1:1; Jn 21:24.

175 Cf Lk 2:7; Mt 27: 48; Jn 20:7.

176 Col 2:9.

177 Jn 14:9; Lk 9:35; cf. Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7, "my beloved Son".

178 Jn 4:9.

179 Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; I Pt 1:18-19.

180 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

181 Cf. Lk 2:51.

182 Cf. Jn 15:3.

183 Mt 8:17; cf. Isa 53:4.

184 Cf. 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 11 [32].

188 I Cor 15:3; Rom 4:25.

189 I Jn 2:1 Heb 7:25.

190 Heb 9:24.

191 GS 38; cf. Rom 15:5; Phil 2:5.

192 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

193 GS 22 § 2.

194 St. John Eudes: LH, week 33, Friday, OR.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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