CCC 333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”1 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”2 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.3 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.4 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.5
CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.6 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,7 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.
CCC 441 In the Old Testament, “son of God” is a title given to the angels, the Chosen People, the children of Israel, and their kings.8 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 than this.9
CCC 443 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.”10 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.11 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 Father”.12
CCC 500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus.13 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”.14 They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.15
CCC 515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith16 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.17 His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”18 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
CCC 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”.19 Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death.20 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.21 The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son.22 The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him”.23 Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were opened”24 – 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.
CCC 545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”25 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”.26 The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.27
CCC 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”.28 By doing so, he announced a sign of the last days, which were to begin with his own Passover.29 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.30
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.31 He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men.32 Therefore his being put to bodily death33 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.”34
CCC 591 Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of the Father’s works which he accomplished.35 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.36 Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises37 allows one to understand the Sanhedrin’s tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer.38 The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of “ignorance” and the “hardness” of their “unbelief”.39
CCC 596 The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus.40 The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers.41 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.”42 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.43 The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death.44
CCC 597 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.45 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.46 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.47 As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council:
... [N]either all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. .. [T]he Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.48
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.”49 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.50
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.”51 In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men.52 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.”53 Hence the sovereign freedom of God’s Son as he went out to his death.54
CCC 610 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”.55 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.”56
CCC 612 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,57 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”58 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.59 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.60 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.”61
CCC 613 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”,62 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 sins”.63
CCC 764 “This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.”64 To welcome Jesus’ word is to welcome “the Kingdom itself.”64 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the “little flock” of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.66 They form Jesus’ true family.67 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new “way of acting” and a prayer of their own.68
CCC 1328 The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called:
Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein69 and eulogein70 recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.
CCC 1329 The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.71
The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread,72 above all at the Last Supper.73 It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection,74 and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies;75 by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.76
The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.77
CCC 1339 Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the passover meal for us, that we may eat it. ..” They went. .. and prepared the passover. And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”... And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.”78
CCC 1365 Because it is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: “This is my body which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.”79 In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”80
CCC 1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”81
CCC 1403 At the Last Supper the Lord himself directed his disciples’ attention toward the fulfillment of the Passover in the kingdom of God: “I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”82 Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist she remembers this promise and turns her gaze “to him who is to come.” In her prayer she calls for his coming: “Marana tha!” “Come, Lord Jesus!”83 “May your grace come and this world pass away!”84
CCC 1846 The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners.85 The angel announced to Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”86 The same is true of the Eucharist, the sacrament of redemption: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”87
CCC 2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, “You shall not kill,”88 and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies.89 He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.90
CCC 2719 Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. The Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb – the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not “the flesh [which] is weak”) brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to “keep watch with [him] one hour.”91
CCC 2733 Another temptation, to which presumption opens the gate, is acedia. The spiritual writers understand by this a form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”92 The greater the height, the harder the fall. Painful as discouragement is, it is the reverse of presumption. The humble are not surprised by their distress; it leads them to trust more, to hold fast in constancy.
CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.93 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”94 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.95
CCC 2846 This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to “lead” us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.”96 “God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one”;97 on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle “between flesh and spirit”; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.
CCC 2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.98 In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.”99 The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.100 Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”101
1 Heb 1:6.
2 Lk 2:14.
3 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.
4 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.
5 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9. The angels in the life of the Church
6 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.
7 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.
8 Cf. Dt 14:1; (LXX) 32:8; Job 1:6; Ex 4:22; Hos 2:1; 11:1; Jer 3:19; sir 36:11; Wis 18:13; 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 82:6.
9 Cf. I Chr 17:13; Ps 2:7; Mt 27:54; Lk 23:47.
10 Lk 22:70; cf. Mt 26:64; Mk 14:61-62.
11 Cf. Mt 11:27; 21:34-38; 24:36.
12 Mt 5:48; 6:8-9; 7:21; Lk 11:13; Jn 20:17.
13 Cf. Mk 3:31-35; 6:3; I Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19.
14 Mt 13:55; 28:1; cf. Mt 27:56.
15 Cf. Gen 13:8; 14:16; 29:15; etc.
16 Cf. Mk 1:1; Jn 21:24.
17 Cf Lk 2:7; Mt 27: 48; Jn 20:7.
18 Col 2:9.
19 Jn 1:29; cf. Is 53:12.
20 Cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50.
21 Mt 3:15; cf. 26:39.
22 Cf. Lk 3:22; Is 42:1.
23 Jn 1:32-33; cf. Is 11:2.
24 Mt 3:16.
25 Mk 2:17; cf. l Tim 1:15.
26 Lk 15:7; cf. 7:11-32.
27 Mt 26:28.
28 Cf. Mt 24:1-2.
29 Cf. Mt 24:3; Lk 13:35.
30 Cf Mk 14:57-58; Mt 27 39-40.
31 Cf. Mt 8:4; 16:18; 17:24-27; Lk 17:14; Jn 4:22; 18:20.
32 Cf. Jn 2:21; Mt 12:6.
33 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.
34 Jn 4:21; cf. 4:23-24; Mt 27:5; Heb 9:11; Rev 21:22.
35 Jn 10:36-38.
36 Cf. Jn 3:7; 6:44.
37 Cf. Is 53:1.
38 Cf. Mk 3:6; Mt 26:64-66.
39 Cf. Lk 23 34; Acts 3: 17-18; Mk 3:5; Rom 11:25, 20.
40 cf. Jn 9:16; 10:19.
41 Cf Jn 9:22.
42 Jn 11:48-50.
43 Cf. Mt 26:66; Jn 18:31; Lk 23:2, 19.
44 Cf. Jn 19:12, 15, 21.
45 Cf. Mk 15:11; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28; I Th 2:14-15.
46 Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17.
47 Mt 27:25; cf. Acts 5:28; 18:6.
48 NA 4.
49 Acts 4:27-28; cf. Ps 2:1-2.
50 Cf. Mt 26:54; Jn 18:36; 19:11; Acts 3:17-18.
51 Jn 13:1; 15:13.
52 Cf. Heb 2:10,17-18; 4:15; 5:7-9.
53 Jn 10:18.
54 Cf. Jn 18:4-6; Mt 26:53.
55 Roman Missal, EP III; cf. Mt 26:20; I Cor 11:23.
56 Lk 22:19; Mt 26:28; cf. I Cor 5:7.
57 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.
58 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.
59 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.
60 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.
61 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.
62 Jn 1:29; cf. 8:34-36; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pt 1:19.
63 Mt 26:28; cf. Ex 24:8; Lev 16:15-16; Cor 11:25.
64 LG 5.
65 LG 5.
66 Lk 12:32; cf. Mt 10:16; 26:31; Jn 10:1-21.
67 Cf. Mt 12:49.
68 Cf. Mt 5-6.
69 Cf. Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24.
70 Cf. Mt 26:26; Mk 14:22.
71 Cf. 1 Cor 11:20; Rev 19:9.
72 Cf. Mt 14:19; 15:36; Mk 8:6, 19.
73 Cf. Mt 26:26; 1 Cor 11:24.
74 Cf. Lk 24:13-35.
75 Cf. Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11.
76 Cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17.
77 Cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34.
78 Lk 22:7-20; Cf. Mt 26:17-29; Mk 14:12-25; 1 Cor 11:23-26.
79 Lk 22:19-20.
80 Mt 26:28.
81 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1642; cf. Mt 26:26 ff.; Mk 14:22 ff.; Lk 22:19 ff.; 1 Cor 11:24 ff.
82 Mt 26:29; cf. Lk 22:18; Mk 14 25.
83 Rev 1:4; 22 20; 1 Cor 16 22.
84 Didache 10, 6: SCh 248,180.
85 Cf. Lk 15.
86 Mt 1:21.
87 Mt 26:28.
88 Mt 5:21.
89 Cf. Mt 5:22-39; 5:44.
90 Cf. Mt 26:52.
91 Cf. Mt 26:40.
92 Mt 26:41.
93 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.
94 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.
95 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.
96 Cf. Mt 26 41.
97 Jas 113.
98 Cf. Mt 4:1-11; 26:36-44.
99 Jn 17:11; Cf. Mk 13:9, 23, 33-37; 14:38; Lk 12:35-40.
100 Cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Pet 5:8.
101 Rev 16:15.