CCC 160 To be human, “man’s response to God by faith must be free, and. .. therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act.”1 “God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. .. This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus.”2 Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. “For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. .. grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself.”3
CCC 217 God is also truthful when he reveals himself – the teaching that comes from God is “true instruction”.4 When he sends his Son into the world it will be “to bear witness to the truth”:5 “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true.”6
CCC 549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death,7 Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,8 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.9
CCC 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”.10 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”.11 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.12 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.13 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,14 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.
CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,15 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,16 than for the ordinary People of God.17 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;18 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.19 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,20 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),21 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.22
CCC 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.23 He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men.24 Therefore his being put to bodily death25 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.”26
CCC 596 The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus.27 The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers.28 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.”29 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.30 The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death.31
CCC 600 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.”32 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.33
CCC 607 The desire to embrace his Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life,34 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.”35 And again, “Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?”36 From the cross, just before “It is finished”, he said, “I thirst.”37
CCC 609 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.”38 In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men.39 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.”40 Hence the sovereign freedom of God’s Son as he went out to his death.41
CCC 2471 Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he “has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”42 The Christian is not to “be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.”43 In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep “a clear conscience toward God and toward men.”44
1 DH 10; cf. CIC, can. 748 # 2.
2 DH 11.
3 DH 11; cf. Jn 18:37; 12:32.
4 Mal 2:6.
5 Jn 18:37.
6 I Jn 5:20; cf. Jn 17:3.
7 Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.
8 Cf. Lk 12 13-14; Jn 18:36.
9 Cf. Jn 8:34-36.
10 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.
11 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.
12 Cf. Jn 18:37.
13 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.
14 Cf. Ps 118:26.
15 Lk 2:34.
16 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.
17 Jn 7:48-49.
18 Cf Lk 13:31.
19 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.
20 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.
21 Cf. Mt 6:18.
22 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.
23 Cf. Mt 8:4; 16:18; 17:24-27; Lk 17:14; Jn 4:22; 18:20.
24 Cf. Jn 2:21; Mt 12:6.
25 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.
26 Jn 4:21; cf. 4:23-24; Mt 27:5; Heb 9:11; Rev 21:22.
27 cf. Jn 9:16; 10:19.
28 Cf Jn 9:22.
29 Jn 11:48-50.
30 Cf. Mt 26:66; Jn 18:31; Lk 23:2, 19.
31 Cf. Jn 19:12, 15, 21.
32 Acts 4:27-28; cf. Ps 2:1-2.
33 Cf. Mt 26:54; Jn 18:36; 19:11; Acts 3:17-18.
34 Cf Lk 12:50; 22:15; Mt 16:21-23.
35 Jn 12:27.
36 Jn 18:11.
37 Jn 19:30; 19:28.
38 Jn 13:1; 15:13.
39 Cf. Heb 2:10,17-18; 4:15; 5:7-9.
40 Jn 10:18.
41 Cf. Jn 18:4-6; Mt 26:53.
42 Jn 18:37.
43 2 Tim 1:8.
44 Acts 24:16.