Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Son of God and Sinners

 Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them.  

As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus.

James Tissot, "Jesus Has Supper With Matthew"
While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 

Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 

Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mk 2:13-17).

 The Catechism opens up the Scriptures to us.  Read Scripture and the Catechism together daily!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Jesus Christ as the Only Son of God

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 (Cf. Mk 3:6; 14:1). 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 (Cf. Mt 12:24; Mk 2:7, 14-17; 3:1-6; 7:14-23) -- some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession (Cf. Mk 3:22; Jn 8:48; 10:20). He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning (Cf. Mk 2:7; Jn 5:18; Jn 7:12, 7:52; 8:59; 10:31, 33).

575 Many of Jesus' deeds and words constituted a "sign of contradiction” (Lk 2:34), but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply "the Jews” (Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19), than for the ordinary People of God (Jn 7:48-49). To be sure, Christ's relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting (Cf Lk 13:31); Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes (Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1). Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God's people: the resurrection of the dead (Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39), certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer) (Cf. Mt 6:18), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor (Cf. Mk 12:28-34).


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

588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves (Cf. Lk 5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1). 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” (Lk 18:9; 5:32; cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34). He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves (Cf. Jn 8:33-36; 9:40-41).

589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God's own attitude toward them (Cf. Mt 9:13; Hos 6:6). He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet (Cf. Lk 15:1-2, 22-32). 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?” (Mk 2:7). 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 (Cf. Jn 5:18; 10:33; 17:6, 26).

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 (Cf. Mt 12:6, 30, 36, 37, 41-42), and his affirmations, "Before Abraham was, I AM", and even "I and the Father are one” (Jn 8:58; 10:30).

591 Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of the Father's works which he accomplished (Jn 10:36-38). 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 (Cf. Jn 3:7; 6:44). Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises (Cf. Isa 53:1) allows one to understand the Sanhedrin's tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer (Cf. Mk 3:6; Mt 26:64-66). The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of "ignorance" and the "hardness" of their "unbelief" (Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17-18; Mk 3:5; Rom 11:25, 20).

No comments:

Post a Comment