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What We Believe

Author(s): Patrick Mullins

ISBN13: 9781847302144

ISBN10: 1847302149

Publisher: Veritas

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  • This book is an introduction to the main elements of the Catholic Church for those who would like to better understand their own faith and to participate in the Church’s life of faith more fully.

    Using the lived experience of well-known individuals, from St Thomas Aquinas to St Joan of Arc to Blessed John XXIII, it explores the many different aspects of the faith that we share. The main chapters of the book correspond to the four sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (concerning prayer, the sacraments, the commandments and the Creed), further illuminating our discovery of what we believe.

  • Patrick Mullins

    Dr Patrick Mullins is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin. A non-ordained Brother of the Carmelite Order, he is Director of Studies at the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland.

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    For almost the last book to be reviewed in these pages before Christmas Day, we turn to a book which is not really a Christmas book at all, but which many will find a book for all seasons.


    Carmelite Patrick Mullins is a Professor in the Department of Systematic Theology at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy. He is the author of many articles in the fields of theology and Carmelite Spirituality.


    The main chapters of the book correspond to the four sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (concerning prayer, the sacraments, the commandments and the Creed).


    Yet this is not mere catechetical resume, though the title might suggest this, but rather an exploration of Catholic faith and belief through the lives and writings of a series of saints over the last two thousand years.


    For instance, the chapter on Faith and Worship uses Ignatius of Antioch, Thomas Aquinas and Edith Stein as ''models of worship''. There is a strong tendency among many Catholics to take an interest only in saints of recent centuries, and if we might so express it, ''celebrity saints''. This book takes a much wider view.


    What Fr Mullins wishes to emphasis is, first of all, the long continuity of the Faith, well-rooted in the past, deriving from the Old Testament and the Gospels, but flowering in different ways over the centuries.


    Rather than discussing the Faith as a mere theological or liturgical abstraction, he uses the lives and writings of his chosen saints to illuminate it through their experiences and their personal encounters with the inner meaning of the truths they believe.


    Over these nearly two thousand years Christians have faced very different challenges. Indeed some of the challenges faced today are in many ways more daunting than those in pervious centuries. In many places Christians do not face the mere inconveniences of life in the West; many have to face the more brutal aspect of real martyrdom.


    Christianity is, however, also a matter of witness in all the ways of daily life. And here our current troubles are illustrative. One cannot but reflect that if many of the precepts of the Gospels that we all pay lip service to had really been followed the crass greed of many in the last decade would have been avoided.


    The bankers and the politicians are held up to blame; yet we all know in our heart of hearts that faced with an opportunity of profiteering from property or from shares we were all guilty to some extent.


    Indeed, the author quotes very appositely a passage from Lumen gentium: ''Moreover, by uniting their forces, let the laity so remedy the institutions and conditions of the world when the latter are an inducement to sin, that these may be conformed to the norms of justice, favouring rather than hindering the practise of virtue.''


    And that is the lesson of Christianity: it covers all aspects of our life, not just those sexual or social aspects which may see as 'immorality', but all aspects. Aspects of the life of business and public affairs are just as much matters of abuse as anything that is often seen as 'immorality' of private life.


    Yet Christianity is not a negative matter either. Rather like the responses needed to the winter weather this year, we need to be not reactive, but proactive. As these saints all illustrate, it is in fact a largely positive matter, aiming not so much as mere avoidance of sin, but of proving a way of life in which sin (all kinds of sin) may be avoided.


    As a book for the New Year Fr Mullins' treasury of worthy lives and what they have to teach us all can be heartily recommended.


     - Peter Costello, Irish Catholic 23rd December 2010

  • Chapter 1 FAITH IN CHRIST

    This introductory chapter is an exploration of the meaning of Christian faith. It begins by describing the main characteristics of the Old Testament faith of Abraham and Moses, and of the Old and New Testament faith of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It then identifies Priest, King and Prophet as three of the dimensions of our faith concerning Jesus the Messiah-Christ, and it outlines the way in which we are given a share in his priestly, royal and prophetic offices through faith and the sacraments. With the subdivision of the priestly office into prayer and worship, these three offices are then presented as the basis for the four sections in the Catechism, on which chapters two, three, four and five of this book are based.


    We can identify the essential characteristics of our own faith in the Old Testament figures of Abraham and Moses, who are recognised as models of faith by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Abrahamic faith provided the essential model for both New Testament faith and for Muslim faith but, although their common ground is considerable, New Testament faith departs radically from both Judaism and Islam in its recognition of Jesus of Nazareth as God incarnate. His mother, the Jewess Mary of Nazareth, is held in high esteem by both Islam and Christianity. The Catholic Church considers her to be the outstanding model and example of faith, hope and love for all the disciples of her divine Son. In her, the faith of Abraham and the faith of Moses find their finest flowering and fulfilment.

    Abraham, Our Father in Faith

    In the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis, we read how God created all things, including humankind, and that God looked on all that was created and saw that it was very good. Humankind sinned against God, however, and chapters 3-11 of the Book of Genesis tells the sad story of our gradual and increasing turning away from God: Cain killing Abel, Noah and the Flood, the Tower of Babel. Everything seems to be going from bad to worse and there seems to be no one left who is genuinely trying to do Gods will. All this changes, however, when we begin chapter 12 of Genesis with the story of Abram (Abraham).

    Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country
    and your kindred and your fathers house to the land
    that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation,
    and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that
    you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,
    and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all
    the families of the earth shall be blessed.

    Abrams journey of faith begins with God, who takes the initiative, rather than with Abram himself. The first thing that God demands of Abram is that he be willing to separate himself from those things that provide alternative means of support and security (living in his fathers house, among his own relations and in his own country). He is to leave his own people, but he is not free to go where he chooses; he must go to the land that God chooses for him.

    To appreciate the importance of what God promises Abram, we need to remember the situation in which he found himself. Abrams great-great-great-grandfather was called Peleg, and Peleg was the great-great-great-grandson of Noah. Abrams father, Terah, came from Ur of the Chaldeans (modern-day Iraq) and had moved with his family to Haran (in modern-day Syria) where they settled, a journey of some six hundred miles north-west up the river Euphrates. In Ur, Abram married Sarai, but she was barren and had no children. At the time God makes this promise to Abram, Abram is seventy-five years old and the promise is that he will be blessed by God and become a great nation, i.e. have such a large family that they will form a nation. This was surely a most extraordinary prophesy to make to a man in Abrams position.

    Despite the extraordinary nature of what God tells him, Abram does not question God. He takes God at his word and does what God has told him to do. With nothing to guide him but what God has told him, he leaves Haran to go wherever the LORD will lead him.

    So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot
    went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when
    he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and
    his brothers son Lot, and all the possessions that they
    had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired
    in Haran, and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan.

    When his father, Terah, had left Ur, he took his son and daughter-in-law, Abram and Sarai, and his grandson, Lot, with him. He had intended to go to the land of Canaan but stayed in Haran instead. When Abram leaves Haran, he takes with him his wife, Sarai, his nephew, Lot, and all the possessions and people (servants, presumably) they had acquired while in Haran. When Abram leaves Haran he heads for the land of Canaan (where his father had originally intended to go). Canaan is roughly two hundred miles south-west of Haran.

    The story of Abram, later renamed as Abraham, has always been seen as a model for the way that we are called to respond to what God asks of us in faith. In the Letter to the Hebrews (11:8-12), Abraham is praised for his faith for four reasons. First, he obeyed Gods command to migrate to another country (see Gen 12:1, 4). Second, his confidence that his descendants would possess that land even though he himself, together with Isaac and Jacob (see Gen 26:4; 35:12), would never be more than sojourners there (see Gen 15:16, 18). Third, he lived as a nomad, living in a tent rather than in a house, the reason for this being that he would not have a permanent house except in heaven (Gen 12:22; 13:14). Finally, his faith enabled him to have children, despite his age and the fact that his wife was barren. Abraham believed that the God who had promised him that he would be the father of a great nation was faithful, and by believing he received the power of procreation , despite the fact that he was as good as dead (i.e. so old). He had so many descendants that they became as many as the stars or as the grains of sands on the seashore.

    By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out
    for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and
    he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith
    he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised,
    as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob,
    who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he
    looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose
    architect and builder is God. By faith he received power
    of procreation, even though he was too old , and Sarah
    herself was barren , because he considered him faithful
    who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this
    one as good as dead, descendants were born, as many as
    the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand
    by the seashore.

    Abraham has always been seen as a model for the way we respond to what God asks of us in faith. He is described as our Father in Faith (see Rom 4:12) because of the way he responded to what God asked of him.

    Moses, Man of Faith

    At the end of the book of Genesis, we are told that Abrahams grandson, Jacob, came down into Egypt to be with his son, Joseph, who had a position of importance there. In the opening chapters of the Book of Exodus we read that, after Josephs death in Egypt, the people of Israel were oppressed by a king (pharaoh) who did not know Joseph. Used as forced labourers to keep them under control and commanded to kill all newborn males to keep their numbers down, they cried for help to God. It is through the call of Moses, described in chapter 3 of the Book of Exodus, that God responds to the cry for help of the Israelites. After murdering an Egyptian who had abused his fellow Egyptians, Moses fled from Egypt to the Sinai Peninsula where the Midianites (who, like the Israelites, were Semites) lived. There Moses had married a Midianite woman called Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, a Midianite priest. Some time afterwards, Moses had an experience (see Exod 3:1- 10) near Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai) that so transformed his life and the lives of his fellow Israelites that the mountain became known as the mountain of God.

    Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,
    the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the
    wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
    There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame
    of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing,
    yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, I must turn
    aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is
    not burned up.When the LORD saw that he had turned
    aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, Moses,
    Moses! And he said, Here I am. Then he said, Come no
    closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place
    on which you are standing is holy ground. He said
    further, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham,
    the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid
    his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

    Attracting Moses attention by the strange sight of a bush that was blazing but not burnt up, God calls to Moses from the bush and Moses answers. God reveals himself as the God of Moses ancestors and tells Moses that he is aware of the desperate situation of the Israelites in Egypt:

    Then the LORD said, I have observed the misery of
    my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry
    on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their
    sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from
    the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land
    to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk
    and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the
    Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and
    the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come
    to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress
    them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring
    my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.

    God has not been blind to what has been happening to the Israelites in Egypt and he promises that, led by Moses, the people will be delivered from their slavery and given a land of their own, a land flowing with milk and honey. In the Letter to the Hebrews (11:24-28), Moses is presented as a model for our Christian faith because he decided to live in solidarity with his own people, the Israelites, and to suffer ill-treatment with them, rather than choosing to enjoy the privileges that could have been his because he was brought up in the household of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The text implies that Moses chose to live like this because of some awareness that the future Messiah would come from them:

    By faith, Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be
    called a son of Pharaohs daughter, choosing rather to
    share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy
    the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered
    for the Messiah to be greater wealth than the treasures
    of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. By
    faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the kings anger; for he
    persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. By
    faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood,
    so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch
    the firstborn of Israel.

    Moses is also praised for having been unafraid of the kings anger, leading the Israelites out of Egypt and persevering as though he were being personally led by Jesus himself. God revealed to Moses that in order to convince Pharaoh to allow the people of Israel to go, he should sprinkle the blood of a lamb on the door-posts of the Israelite houses so that the destroyer of the firstborn would pass over the firstborn of Israel. Although it must have seemed a strange and unusual thing to do, the people followed the instructions given to them by Moses and the firstborn of the Israelites were, in fact, spared.

    Mary, Woman of Faith

    In Lukes Gospel, the birth of Jesus is foretold (1:26-38):

    In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God
    to a town in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin
    engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the
    house of David. The virgins name was Mary. And he
    came to her and said, Greetings, favoured one! The
    Lord is with you. But she was much perplexed by his
    words and pondered what sort of greeting this might
    be. The angel said to her, do not be afraid, Mary, for
    you have found favour with God. And now, you will
    conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will
    name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called
    the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give
    to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign
    over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom
    there will be no end.

    In the previous section of Lukes Gospel, it is to Zechariah, rather than to Elizabeth his wife, that the angel appears to announce the birth of John the Baptist. In this section, however, the announcement is made to a betrothed virgin, Mary, who was perplexed and did not understand the angels greeting. It implied that she was especially graced or favoured by God and she did not understand why this should be so, or in what way she was especially favoured. The angel explains that she is to conceive and bear a son named Jesus (literally, the Lord saves) who will be great (see Tob 12:22; Pss 48:2; 86:10; 96:4) and called the Son of the Most High (see Gen 14:19-22; Sir 24:2), and who will rule forever on the throne of his ancestor, King David. Joseph was of the house of David (verse 27) and, through marriage, both Mary and her son would belong to the Davidic line.

    Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I am a
    virgin? The angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will
    come upon you, and the power of the Most High will
    overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be
    holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your
    relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son;
    and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be
    barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. Then
    Mary said, Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be
    with me according to your word. Then the angel
    departed from her.

    Mary asks how all this could come about since, even though she was engaged to Joseph, she was still a virgin. She may have been thinking of the law forbidding sexual relations till the year of engagement was completed, or it may be that she had made a vow of virginity and that Joseph had accepted that arrangement. In answer to Marys question, the angel makes it clear that Joseph will not be the father of the child; he will be the Son of God and conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. Apparently aware that this explanation of how the child was to be conceived must sound strange, the angel then tells Mary that her elderly and barren cousin, Elizabeth, has also conceived. Recognising in faith that nothing will be impossible with God, even the conception of a child independently of sexual intercourse, Mary declares herself to be the Lords servant and submits herself to all that the angel has told her.

    In 1987, Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical letter on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church, Redemptoris Mater, in which he presents Mary as a model for our faith (nn. 13, 14). He put particular emphasis on Marys yes to God, her Let it be done (in Latin fiat) according to Gods word:

    The mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished when
    Mary uttered her fiat: Let it be to me according to your
    word, which made possible, as far as it depended upon
    her in the divine plan, the granting of her Sons desire.
    Mary uttered this fiat in faith. In faith she entrusted
    herself to God without reserve and devoted herself
    totally as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and
    work of her Son.1 And, as the Fathers of the Church
    teach, she conceived this Son in her mind before she
    conceived him in her womb: she conceived him, in
    other words, in faith!2 It is therefore right for Elizabeth
    to praise Mary with the words: and blessed is she who
    believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was
    spoken to her from the Lord.

    Marys yes to God was an expression of her faith, the entrusting of herself to God and her dedication to his service. It was also an expression of her willingness to accept the word of God as trustworthy and to believe that what Gods messenger had said to her was true. Pope John Paul II compared the role of Mary in the New Testament to that of Abraham in the Old:

    Marys faith can also be compared to that of Abraham,
    whom Saint Paul calls our father in faith (see Rom
    4:12). In the salvific economy of Gods revelation,
    Abrahams faith constitutes the beginning of the Old
    Covenant; Marys faith at the Annunciation
    inaugurates the New Covenant. Just as Abraham in
    hope believed against hope, that he should become the
    father of many nations (see Rom 4:18), so Mary, at
    the Annunciation, having professed her virginity
    (How can this be, since I have no husband?), believed
    that through the power of the Most High, by the
    power of the Holy Spirit, she would become the
    Mother of Gods Son in accordance with the angels
    revelation: The child to be born will be called holy,
    the Son of God (Lk 1:35).

    The Pope also underlined the sense of abandoning oneself in our relationship with God and the recognition that Gods ways are not our ways, which is an intrinsic part of authentic faith. He also pointed out that, because we cannot understand the mind of God, the light that faith gives us is always dim and difficult for us to fully comprehend, even for someone like Mary:

    To believe means to abandon oneself to the truth of the
    word of the living God, knowing and humbly recognising
    how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable
    his ways (Rom 11:33). Mary, who by the eternal will of
    the Most High stands, one may say, at the very centre of
    those inscrutable ways and unsearchable judgments of
    God, conforms herself to them in the dim light of faith,
    accepting fully and with a ready heart everything that is
    decreed in the divine plan.


    Having outlined the main characteristics of the faith of Abraham, Moses and Mary, I will now outline the way in which the faith of the New Testament recognises Jesus as the fulfilment of Old Testament expectations about the Messiah- Christ, and the way in which it describes different individuals as sharing in his teaching, preaching and healing ministry.

    After the exile in Babylon, the Jewish people began to focus their hopes on the coming of a future Messiah, who would restore the purity and fervour of their religion and establish a new Golden Age like that under King David and King Solomon. Although presented in different ways by different writers, the coming Messiah was generally seen as a king, a prophet or a priest.

    Following a much earlier tradition than its final editing, probably after the exile in Babylon, the Second Book of Samuel describes the prophet Nathan as telling King David that God would establish one of his descendants as an eternal king:

    When your days are fulfilled, and you lie down with
    your ancestors, I will raise up your offering after you,
    who shall come forth from your body, and I will
    establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my
    name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom
    forever. I will be his father to him, and he shall be a
    son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish
    him with a rod such as mortals use, and with blows
    inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my
    steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom
    I put away from before you. Your house and your
    kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me: your
    throne shall be established for ever. (2 Sam 7:12-16)

    The Book of Sirach looks forward to the return of the prophet Elijah who would restore the relationship between the tribes of Jacob-Israel and their God:

    You were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot
    with horses of fire. At the appointed time, it is written,
    you are destined to calm the wrath of God before it breaks
    out in fury, to turn the hearts of parents to their children,
    and to restore the tribes of Jacob. (Sirach 48:9-10)

    The prophet Malachi looked forward to the coming of a divine messenger who would judge and purify the corrupt Jewish priesthood:

    For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge But
    you are turned aside from the way you have
    corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of
    Hosts. See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the
    way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will
    suddenly come to his temple he is like a refiners
    fire and like fullers soap; he will sit as a refiner and
    purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of
    Levi until they present offerings to the Lord in
    righteousness. (Mal 2:7-8; 3:1-3)

    The New Testament presents Jesus, who is king, prophet and priest, as the fulfilment of these Messianic expectations. In Matthews Gospel, the awaited royal Messiah-Christ, born of Davids line (see 2 Sam 7:12-16) through the marriage of his mother, Mary, is recognised as the king of the Jews, like his ancestor David:

    Where is the child who has been born king of the
    Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have
    come to pay him homage. When King Herod heard
    this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him.
    (Mt 2:2-3)

    In Johns Gospel, Jesus makes it clear to Pilate that he is the king of the Jews, but that his kingship is not of this world:

    Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned
    Jesus, and asked him, Are you the King of the Jews?
    Jesus answered, My kingship is not from this world
    Pilate asked him, So you are a king? Jesus answered,
    You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for
    this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Every
    one who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. (Jn

    The implication of Jesus being the king of the Jews but having a kingship that is not from this world is that Jesus is, in fact, God. For, as the enthronement psalms (Pss 93, 95-99) with their refrain The LORD is king imply, God is the true king of Israel. Because his kingship is theological, Jesus rejected any attempt to make himself king in the political sense:

    When Jesus realized that they were about to come and
    take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again
    to the mountain by himself. (Jn 6:15)

    The kings of Israel were regarded as shepherds who acted on behalf of God, the principal shepherd of his people, and in Johns Gospel Jesus is presented as showing his kingly authority through his self-sacrificing pastoral care:

    I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own
    know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the
    Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. (Jn 10:14-15)

    The New Testament presents Jesus as the fulfilment of the prophecy about an Elijah-like prophet who would restore the tribes of Jacob (Sir 48:10). Elijah raised a widows son from the dead (see 1 Kings 17:23) and, after Jesus does the same, he is described as a great prophet like Elijah:

    The dead man sat up and began to speak and they
    glorified God, saying, A great prophet has risen among
    us! and God has looked favourably on his people! (Lk 7:15-17)

    When he is rejected at Nazareth, Jesus compares himself to Elijah:

    [N]o prophet is acceped in the prophets hometown
    there were many widows in Israel in the times of El?¡jah
    yet El?¡jah was sent to none of them except to a
    widow of Zarephath in Sidon. (Lk 4:24-26)

    John the Baptist recognised that he himself was not the expected Messiah or Elijah returned or another prophet like Moses. He implies, however, that Jesus fulfils and is greater than any of these roles:

    They asked him, Why then are you baptizing if you are
    neither the Messiah [Christ], nor Elijah, nor the
    prophet? John answered them, I baptize with water.
    Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one
    who is who coming after me; I am not worthy to untie
    the thong of his sandal. (Jn 1:21-27)

    Jesus is greater than the greatest of the prophets, because he not only proclaims Gods Word but is, in fact, Gods Word become flesh:

    And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we
    have seen his glory, glory as of a fathers only son, full of
    grace and truth. (Jn 1:14)

    The Letter to the Hebrews presents Jesus as the only and eternal High Priest of the new covenant, but also as one who has been tempted just as we are:

    Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed
    through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold
    fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest
    who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but
    we have one who in every respect has been tempted as
    we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the
    throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive
    mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Every high
    priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of
    things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts
    and sacrifices for sins. (Heb 4:14-5:1)

    Jesus high priesthood is permanent and his single perfect sacrifice of himself for our sins makes him the only priest of the new Covenant:

    Furthermore, the former priests were many in number
    because they were prevented by death from
    continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood
    permanently, because he continues forever Unlike
    the other high priests he has no need to offer sacrifices
    day after day this he did once for all when he offered
    himself. (Heb 7:23-28)

    At his death, the veil separating the Holy of Holies was torn in two, implying that he, himself, had become the new Holy of Holies:

    Jesus breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of
    the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mt


    Matthews Gospel describes the public ministry of Jesus as being made up of three elements: teaching, preaching and healing:

    Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their
    synagogues and porclaiming the good news of the
    kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness
    among the people. (Mt 4:23)

    Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching
    in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of
    the kingdom, and curing every disease and every
    sickness. (Mt 9:35)

    Jesus is presented as teaching in the synagogues (see Mt 4:23; Jn 6:59), in the cities (see Mt 11:1), in the temple (see Mt 21:23; Jn 7:14; Jn 8:20) and even daily (see Mt 26:55). Matthew seems to interpret the teaching of Jesus as an expression of his kingly authority. Although he is recognized and addressed as Teacher, he discourages the use of this term for others because he is the common Master/Teacher of all people (see Mt 23:8). He teaches with authority (see Mt 7:29; 13:54) and he presents himself as the authorized interpreter and the fulfilment of the Old Testament law (see Mt 5:17).

    Jesus continues his kingly ministry of authoritative teaching in and through the Twelve chosen as apostles and through their successors. He commissioned the Eleven to make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe everything that he had commanded them (see Mt 28:19- 20). Those who followed Jesus and accepted his teaching (see Mt 10:24, 25) were known as his disciples (see Mt 5:1; 8:21, 23; 9:10, 11, 14, 19, etc.) and they included the Twelve (see Mt 10:1; 12:1). Following the death and resurrection of Jesus, the term disciple was used to describe those who came to believe in Jesus, thanks to the teaching ministry of the Twelve (see Acts 6:1-2; 9:10-26). Their teaching (see Acts 2:42; 5:28) and that of the other apostles and elders was recognised as sound instruction or doctrine (see 1 Tim 1:10; 4:6; 6:3; 2 Tim 4:3; Tit 1:9; 2:1). The principal teacher of the Church after Pentecost (Jn 14:26) is, however, the Holy Spirit, with whom all Christians are anointed (see 1 Jn 2:20, 27). It is the Holy Spirit who is responsible for the charism of teaching that enables an individual to interpret the Scriptures and to give moral exhortation (see Rom 12:7; 1 Cor 4:26).

    Only Matthew uses the phrase the gospel of the kingdom to describe the content of Jesus preaching (see Mt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14). It suggests that Jesus saw himself as having been commissioned to bring the victory message of the coming Kingdom of God in the same way that victorious generals freed a slave chosen from their ranks, who was then sent to bring the victory message (eu-angelion) to the king and all his subjects. Although both John the Baptist and Jesus preached that The kingdom of heaven is at hand (see Mt 3:1; 4:17), the prophetic mission of Jesus surpassed that of John because it was fulfilled in his own coming.

    Jesus continues his prophetic ministry of preaching in and through the Twelve he chose as apostles and through their successors. He commissioned them to preach the same message he had himself preached (see Mt 10:7) and he sent out the Eleven to preach this gospel to the whole world (see Mt 4:14; 26:13). It was not only the Eleven and their successors who were sent out to preach, however, and Luke records that Jesus sent out seventy-two of his disciples, two by two, to proclaim the kingdom (see Lk 10:1-9). After he commissioned them, he said to them:

    Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever
    rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects
    the one who sent me. (Lk 10:16)

    Certain individuals (see Agabus in Acts 11:28) receive an informal, charismatic gift of prophecy (see 1 Cor 14:1-15) from the Holy Spirit. This gift helps them to reveal divine secrets (see 1 Cor 13:2) and to exhort, console and build up the community (see 1 Cor 14:3). Like the apostles, prophets have a foundational role in the Church (see 1 Cor 12:28-29; Eph 2:20; 4:11) and St Paul describes authentic prophecy as being in accordance with apostolic authority (see 1 Cor 14:17, 33).

    The parable of the sower (see Mk 4:1-20) identifies the seed with the Word that Jesus preaches (see Mk 4:14) and the parable twice invites those present to listen (Mk 4:3, 9). The implication would seem to be that listening to the preaching of Gods Word should lead to understanding the Word and to conversion. Presumably, all those who hear the preaching of the Word must also be willing to listen and be converted, if the ministry of those who share in Christs prophetic office is to be fruitful.

    For Matthew, Jesus healing minist
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