Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus’ relationship with Israel, particularly the Pharisees. Supporting material comes from St. John Chrysostom’s “Sermons on the Gospel of John”.

Article 4


571 The Paschal mystery of Christ's cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God's saving plan was accomplished "once for all"313 by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.

572 The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of "all the Scriptures" that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"314 Jesus' sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was "rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes", who handed "him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified".315

573 Faith can therefore try to examine the circumstances of Jesus' death, faithfully handed on by the Gospels316 and illuminated by other historical sources, the better to understand the meaning of the Redemption.


574 From the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him.317 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 sinners318--some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession.319 He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.320

575 Many of Jesus' deeds and words constituted a "sign of contradiction",321 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply "the Jews",322 than for the ordinary People of God.323 To be sure, Christ's relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;324 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.325 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God's people: the resurrection of the dead,326 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),327 The custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbour.328

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People: - submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition; - the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God's presence dwells in a special way; - faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.

In his “Sermons on the Gospel of John” (52), St. John Chrysostom comments on the relationship between the Pharisees and Jesus.

John 7:45-46

“Then came the officers to the Chief Priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spoke like this Man.”

1. There is nothing clearer, nothing simpler than the truth, if we deal not perversely; just as (on the other hand) if we deal perversely, nothing is more difficult. For behold, the Scribes and Pharisees, who seemed forsooth to be wiser than other men, being ever with Christ for the sake of plotting against Him, and beholding His miracles, and reading the Scriptures, were nothing profited, but were even harmed; while the officers, who could not claim one of these privileges, were subdued by one single sermon, and they who had gone forth to bind Him, came back bound themselves by wonder. We must not only marvel at their understanding, that they needed not signs, but were taken by the teaching alone; (for they said not, Never man wrought miracles thus, but, Never man spoke thus;) we must not, I say, merely marvel at their understanding, but also at their boldness, that they spoke thus to those that had sent them, to the Pharisees, to His enemies, to men who were doing all with a view to gratify their enmity. The officers, says the Evangelist, came, and the Pharisees said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? To come was a far greater deed than to have remained, for in the latter case they would have been rid of the annoyance of these men, but now they become heralds of the wisdom of Christ, and manifested their boldness in greater degree. And they say not, We could not become of the multitude, for they gave heed unto Him as unto a prophet; but what? Never man spoke as this Man. Yet they might have alleged that, but they show their right feeling. For theirs was the saying not only of men admiring Him, but blaming their masters, because they had sent them to bind Him whom it behooved rather to hear. Yet they had not heard a sermon either, but a short one; for when the long mind is impartial, there is no need of long arguments.


313 ⇒ Heb 9:26.
314 ⇒ Lk 24:26-27, ⇒ 44-45.
315 ⇒ Mk 8:31; ⇒ Mt 20:19.
316 Cf. DV 19.
317 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:6; 14:1.
318 Cf. ⇒ Mt 12:24; ⇒ Mk 2:7, ⇒ 14-17; ⇒ 3:1-6; ⇒ 7:14-23.
319 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:22; ⇒ Jn 8:48; 10:20.
320 Cf. ⇒ Mk 2:7; ⇒ Jn 5:18; ⇒ 7:12, ⇒ 52; ⇒ 8:59; ⇒ 10:31, ⇒ 33.
321 ⇒ Lk 2:34.
322 Cf. ⇒ Jn 1:19; ⇒ 2:18; ⇒ 5:10; ⇒ 7:13; ⇒ 9:22; ⇒ 18:12; ⇒ 19:38; ⇒ 20:19.
323 ⇒ Jn 7:48-49.
324 Cf ⇒ Lk 13:31.
325 Cf. ⇒ Lk 7:36; ⇒ 14:1.
326 Cf. ⇒ Mt 22:23-34; ⇒ Lk 20:39.
327 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:18.
328 Cf. ⇒ Mk 12:28-34.