Jesus' Public Life

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified

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Getting Baptized (535)

Jesus' public life began while John was preaching a "Baptism of repentance." Suddenly, Jesus appears and wants to be baptized. When Jesus receives John's Baptism, the Father says, "This is my beloved Son" (Mt 3:17), and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus. This manifests Jesus as both Messiah of Israel and Son of God.

Anointed for His Mission (536)

By this Baptism, Jesus accepts his mission as God's suffering servant. He is the "Lamb of God" and his Baptism anticipates his bloody death which will take away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). The Father delights in his Son and the Spirit (already fully possessed by Jesus) comes to "rest on him" (Jn 1:32-33), showing that Jesus will be the source of the Spirit. The heavens (closed by Adam's sin) "were opened" (Mt 3:16) and the water was sanctified (a prelude to the new creation).

Buried with Him (537)

By descending into the baptismal water, Christians enter into this mystery of Christ's death and become the Father's beloved sons. "Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him" (St. Gregory of Nazranzus). "After the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us and we become sons of God" (St. Hilary of Poitiers).

Faithful in the Desert (538-540)

Immediately, the Spirit leads Jesus into a forty day fast in the desert. This period concludes with three diabolical temptations which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert. Jesus rebuffs these attacks and does not compromise his filial attitude toward the Father.

These events reveal Jesus as the new Adam. He also fulfills the vocation of Israel (who was not faithful during their forty years in the desert). In these forty days, Jesus anticipates the full victory of his Passion when he will conquer the devil, bind him, and take back his plunder (Mk 3:27).

Jesus does not accept Satan's proposed definition of his Messiahship. By overcoming these temptations, he is able "to sympathize with our weaknesses," like us "in everything but sin" (Heb 4:15).

Preaching the Kingdom (541-542)

After John is arrested, Jesus takes up his message: "The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1:15). Jesus inaugurates the Kingdom of God which will culminate when he is "lifted up from the earth" (Jn 12:32). Jesus stands at the heart of God's plan to gather the human race into his Church.

Everyone's Kingdom - Especially for the Poor and Sinful (543-545)

This Kingdom is for everyone. God's Word is a seed which exerts its full power within the believer (Second Vatican Council).

This kingdom belongs especially to the poor, because Jesus "preaches the Good News to the poor" (Lk 4:18). This includes the "little ones" with whom the Father is pleased (Mt 11:25). By experiencing hunger and privation, Jesus shared in poverty. He identified himself with the poor, and made love for the poor a condition for entering the kingdom.

Jesus invites all sinners. He shows the Father's boundless mercy and the vast joy in heaven "over one sinner who repents" (Lk 15:7).

Need for a Choice (546)

Through his parables, Jesus invites his hearers to enter the kingdom. He asks them to make a radical choice. ("He sells all that he has and buys that field" - Mt 13:44.) The kingdom requires deeds and the use of God's talents (Mt 13:3-9). The parables contain the secrets of the kingdom. Only a person inside the Kingdom can understand their message.

Miracle Power (547-548)

Jesus' words are accompanied by miracles which manifest the Kingdom. These miracles show that he was sent by the Father and they invite people to believe in him as the Son of God. In spite of miracles, some people reject Jesus. Others claim that his power comes from Satan (Mk 3:22).

Setting People Free (549-550)

In freeing people from illness, hunger and death, Jesus performed messianic signs. His primary task, however, was to free men from sin (the greatest slavery) which causes all forms of human bondage (Jn 8:34-36). Jesus' Kingdom means Satan's defeat. Driving demons out of some people (exorcisms) anticipates Jesus' full victory on the cross over the "ruler of this world" (Jn 12:31).

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