Article 43 – Catechism of the Catholic Church Series

Paragraphs 430-440 Jesus Christ

The very first “talking motion picture” released in October 1927 was “The Jazz Singer,” a story about a young Jewish boy’s struggle to follow his own dreams. His father, a cantor, wants his son (who is blessed with a great singing voice) to be a cantor as well. The boy (Jakie Rabinowitz) does want to sing, but he wants to be a jazz singer, not a cantor. Later, after transforming himself into Jack Robin, the jazz singer, he speaks the first words ever spoken on a talking motion picture: “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”

Something similar happens when we seek to teach our precious Catholic faith. Whether we are parents, teachers, catechists, deacons, priests, or bishops, as we go about helping others become more familiar with the elements of our faith, there are times when those who seek our direction soon jump to conclusions before we have the chance to finish our sentence or complete our explanation. Before being properly introduced to Jesus Christ Our Savior, the center of our faith, neophytes sometimes become frustrated, bogged down or otherwise jump to conclusions. Not unlike the young cantor turned jazz singer, we are tempted to shout, “wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” As we continue our study of the Catechism, having learned much already about the Blessed Trinity, the Sacred Scriptures and human beings made in the image of God, we now embark upon a discussion about the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity.

The first part of this section focuses on the name “Jesus” and the second part focuses on “Christ.” “Jesus,” the Catechism explains, “means in Hebrew: God saves” (ccc 430). The Catechism tells us that “at the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission” (ccc 430). Sacred Scripture further explains: “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” ( Acts 4:12). No wonder “the name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer [and] all liturgical prayers conclude with the words ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ’” (ccc 435). The historical event of the resurrection is what glorifies the name Jesus “for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the ‘name which is above every name’” (ccc 434). “The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles” (ccc 434). In the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, for example, we read about Saint Peter going to the Temple for the hour of prayer “and a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was being carried” ( Acts 3:2).Peter said, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk … and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength [and the man] stood, and walked …” ( Acts 3:7-8).

Even the Hail Mary reaches its high point when the name “Jesus” is invoked: “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus” (ccc 435).

Turning to the word “Christ,” the Catechism tells us that it comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word, “Messiah,” which means “anointed” (ccc 436). The Catechism teaches: “It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that ‘Christ’ signifies” (ccc 436). We might even say that in common use it became the surname of Jesus.

Those consecrated to God for a special mission including priests, prophets and Kings were anointed in God’s name. “This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively” (ccc 436).

In fact, “Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king” (ccc 436).

“To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” ( Lk 2:11) (ccc 437).

Saint Irenaeus (2nd century) helps us understand that the consecration of Jesus as Messiah reveals his divine mission: “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who anointed’ … The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing” (ccc 438).

Many Jews, and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope, recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David” promised by God to Israel. “Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve” (ccc 439). Similarly, “Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah” (ccc 440).

Following the Resurrection of Jesus, Saint Peter proclaimed the Kingship of Jesus “as Messiah” to the Jewish People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” ( Acts 2:36). With more than 2,000 years of faithful, sacrificial living by many millions of Christians comprising the new People of God, the rest of this sentence from the Acts of the Apostles might have read: … “but wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”

Father John G. Hillier, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Chancellor to the Bishop and the bishop’s liaison to persons with disabilities.

Saint Irenaeus (2nd century) helps us understand that the consecration of Jesus as Messiah reveals his divine mission:“for the name‘Christ’implies ‘he who anointed’… The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing” (ccc 438).