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Catechism of the Catholic Church

III. JESUS AND ISRAEL'S FAITH IN THE ONE GOD AND SAVIOUR

587 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

588 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

589 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

590 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

591 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 promises 375 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

IN BRIEF:

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.

Notes:

363 Cf. Lk 2:34; 20:17-18; Ps 118:22.

364 Cf. Lk 5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.

365 Lk 18:9; 5:32; cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34.

366 Cf. Jn 8:33-36; 9:40-41.

367 Cf. Mt 9:13; Hos 6:6.

368 Cf. Lk 15:1-2, 22-32.

369 Mk 2:7.

370 Cf. Jn 5:18; 10:33; 17:6, 26.

371 Cf. Mt 12:6, 30, 36, 37, 41-42.

372 Jn 8:58; 10:30.

373 Jn 10:36-38.

374 Cf. Jn 3:7; 6:44.

375 Cf. Isa 53:1.

376 Cf. Mk 3:6; Mt 26:64-66.

377 Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17-18; Mk 3:5; Rom 11:25, 20.

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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