Last October I wrote a post under this same title: The Catechism at Random. It’s an interesting exercise to use the random number generator at Random.org and have it randomly select a paragraph number from the Catechism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a rich resource filled with all the teachings of our Catholic faith. Since it’s such a great teaching tool, it’s always a learning experience to try this out.
Plus it helps when you’re coming up empty on a topic to write about. Ha!
My random number this time was 587:
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.”
I have to admit to you, dear readers, that part of me wanted to run that random number generator again. But I read this paragraph again (and again and … well, you get the picture) and decided that if this is what I was given this is what I was meant to reflect on. So here we go.
This paragraph from the Catechism begins a new section titled, “Jesus and Israel’s Faith in the One God and Savior.” The first part of this paragraph actually refers back to the sections immediately preceding paragraph 587. I read as far back as 574 to put this into context.
In the preceding sections we’re reminded about the Law the Jews followed as well as the importance of the Temple in Jerusalem to the Jews. As I read I was reminded that Jesus was a respected rabbi in the Jewish community. The Pharisees, i.e., the religious authorities, the teachers of the Law, were offended that in teaching about the Law Jesus “was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people ‘as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.’” (CCC 581)
Of course, Jesus had more authority to teach than the Pharisees, but the teachers of the Law did not know that he was God. As he offered his own interpretation of the Law and brought a new covenant to the people, the Pharisees thought he was leading the people astray. I can see how they would be offended.
Looking now at paragraph 587, it’s much clearer what’s being discussed. Israel’s religious leaders didn’t understand the authority with which Jesus taught about the Law. However, the true stumbling-block for the Pharisees was Jesus role in the redemption of sins.
It’s interesting to me that in the discussion of the Law (CCC 577-582) the Catechism explains that no one could actually follow the letter of the Law perfectly. It was actually impossible to do so. Therefore, the custom was to ask for God’s forgiveness in the breaking of the Law once a year on the Day of Atonement. Only Jesus could follow the Law perfectly. And only Jesus could come, “not to abolish [the Law] but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17).
Reading through these sections reminds me of what a blessing the Sacrament of Reconciliation is. The religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought he was a blasphemer. In actuality he was giving us a gift, the ability to ask for forgiveness and to receive absolution.
We are all sinners. Only Jesus is perfection. He came so that our sins could be forgiven. By his life, death, and resurrection, we have been freed from sin if we choose to accept it. And that, for me, is the key. We must accept Jesus as the one God and Savior in order to receive this amazing gift. By making frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we’re not only coming to Jesus in all our weaknesses, but we’re also accepting him as our Savior.
Join the discussion: Do you make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation? If not, what holds you back?