The Old Testament in the Heart of the Catholic Church
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Some people have said that the man Jesus, the human being, is a different person from Christ, the Son of God. The Church firmly teaches that Jesus Christ is

a.   one person.
b.   two persons.
c.   partly one person and partly another.


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The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ is truly God, and transcends any specific person and any specific time or place.

The Catholic Church also teaches that Jesus Christ is truly man, which means that he is a very specific person, who can be named and identified, and located in time and place.

Is this a different Christ? Jesus Christ is

a.   one person.
b.   two persons.
c.   partly one person and partly another.

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Jesus Christ is fully present under the appearances of the very specific host that you receive at Communion.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross at Calvary about two thousand years ago.

Is this a different Christ? Jesus Christ is

a.   one person.
b.   two persons.
c.   partly one person and partly another.

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Jesus Christ is the Word of God.

The Bible is the Word of God.

Is this a different Word of God? Jesus Christ is

a.   one person.
b.   two persons.
c.   partly one person and partly another.

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Unlike any other book, when you hear or read the Bible, you receive - in every word of both the Old and New Testaments - a person, Christ himself. That changes everything, of course.

But it also brings up a question: is Christ one single person? Is the Christ you receive in the Bible identical to the Christ you receive in the Holy Eucharist, is he truly the Son of God, and is he the exact same Jesus whose mother is Mary, who lived in Galilee, and who died on the Cross? The Catholic Church is very, very firm on this point: the answer is yes. Christ is one person - not two, not partly one person and partly another. He is one person. <<

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The revelation of creation [CCC 288] is inseparable from

a.   the goodness of the universe and of human existence, just as we find it.
b.   the message that man is alone and that the universe has no purpose.
c.   the revelation and forging of the covenant of the one God with his people.

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Creation is revealed [CCC 288] as

a.   a charming story told to satisfy curiosity about origins.
b.   the first and universal witness to God's all-powerful love.
c.   something of minor importance in God's plan.

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In the Old Testament, wealth and power were usually seen as

a.   a terrible curse.
b.   morally wrong.
c.   signs of God's favor.

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Read Proverbs, Prov 15:33. ''Humility goes before honor'' is an idea that was

a.   not at all immediately obvious to the Jewish people.
b.   obvious to the Jewish people from the time of Abraham.
c.   partially obvious to the Jewish people from the time of Abraham.

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In the ancient Near East, when a city or a nation was conquered, the invaders usually executed the wealthy and the powerful. When Babylon conquered Israel, the wealthy and powerful were either executed on the spot, or brought back to Babylon as slaves. The only Israelites who escaped were those too poor to bother about. Read Zephaniah, Zeph 2:3. Scholars see Zeph 2:3 as the beginning of a new turn in Israel's reflections about what God was calling them toward. What is this new idea?

a.   the humbled, the poor, and the lowly are the ones who will be saved.
b.   the Messiah will come to save the people of Israel from their slavery.
c.   there is only one God, the LORD, who created the heavens and the earth.

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The ''remnant of Israel'' is a powerful image of those Jews who stay true to God, or return to him, after a disaster. Read Is 10:20-21. Scholars say that Isaiah 41:14-17 was written at a different historical period than Is 10, and addresses as the ''remnant of Israel'' those who will return from the Exile in Babylon. Read Is 41:14-17 now. How is the remnant of Israel referred to there? As:

a.   the clever and learned.
b.   the poor and needy.
c.   the rich and powerful.

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In CCC 710, the Holy Father and bishops in union with him teach the following:

''In God's plan, the Exile already stands in the shadow of the Cross, and the Remnant of the poor that returns from Exile is one of the most transparent prefigurations of the Church.''

The Catholic Church, rich in her Lord's sacramental presence, still journeys in poverty in this fallen world, and awaits her Lord's second coming on the Last Day, when the world will at last be completely whole again, fully able to manifest and join with the holiness of God. Then at last, in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, the poverty of this world will be ended. <<

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The exile in Babylon eventually ended. Scholars believe that the book of the prophet Zechariah was written after the exile ended. Yet the promised savior has not yet come, even after the exile has ended, because Zech 9:9 (read it now) foretells his coming and states that he will belong to

a.   the clever, the learned.
b.   the humble, the meek.
c.   the wealthy, the powerful.

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'anawim is the Hebrew word for the humble, poor, lowly, afflicted, meek of Israel. In the Old Testament there is a long, gradual development of the salvific meaning of the 'anawim. The Catholic Church sees many passages in Isaiah as showing clearly that the Messiah himself, while remaining the anointed one of God, priest, prophet, and king, will indeed belong to the poor. Read Is 61:1-2. Yet the Messiah will not only bring the poor ''good tidings.'' Read Is 53:1-3. The Messiah will himself be afflicted. The kingship of Jesus comes about through the Cross.

In her Magnificat, her great hymn of praise, Mary also shows that she too belongs to the poor.

Now read Luke 1:46-55. <<

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Read Gen 3:9-13. Now read in the New Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews, Heb 10:5-7. Read CCC 2568. CCC 2568 teaches that between

''God's sorrowful call to his first children: 'Where are you?...What is this that you have done?' and the response of God's only Son on coming into the world: 'Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.'''

- - - comes what?

a.   The end of the world.
b.   The Fall of our first parents.
c.   The revelation of prayer.

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Abraham has done much in obedience to God previously, but the very first time Abraham directly speaks to God in the Bible, he does not praise God. He does not thank him. He quietly reminds God of his promises to him. Read Gen 15:2-6. Read the remarkable passage, Gen 18:16-33. Abraham even dares to intercede before the LORD on behalf of other men.

Read Gen 28:10-22 in which God renews his promise to Jacob, grandson of Abraham. Now read Gen 32:24-30, a mysterious passage in which Jacob wrestles with God and is given the name which makes him the ancestor of God's people: Israel.

You now have enough mastery of Genesis to read CCC 2570-2573, which teaches regarding the patriarchs' experience of prayer. Read CCC 2570-2573 now. <<

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Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy || Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings || 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah || Tobit* Judith* Esther 1 Maccabees* 2 Maccabees* Job


Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song of Songs Wisdom* Sirach* || Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch* Ezekiel Daniel || Hosea Joel >> Amos << Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

The Old Testament books with a star * are not any more or less important than the others. The star indicates that the Catholic Church definitively professes and knows these books to be part of the sacred writings, the inspired Word of God [cf. CCC 120], but that they are specifically rejected by the Jewish people, and called ''apocryphal'' (of doubtful inspiration) by Protestants.

The village of Tekoa is just south of Jerusalem. Read Amos, Am 1:1. Amos was from the southern kingdom of Judah

a.   and prophesied there in the southern kingdom.
b.   but prophesied in both the north and the south.
c.   but prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel.

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Read Am 7:10-13. The reception given Amos's prophecies was

a.   favorable.
b.   lukewarm.
c.   unfavorable.

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Read Am 5:18-20. Many scholars have said that the ''day of the LORD'' in Amos's time had meant a day of celebration and worship, and that for Amos, the ''day of the LORD''

a.   meant a day of the LORD's judgment against Israel.
b.   referred to a day of wrath against Israel's enemies.
c.   reinforced and expanded the celebratory meaning.

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Two additional passages in Am 9 are worthy of special note in this introductory textbook for Catholic students, because they speak of the LORD's presence among non-Jews. First, read Am 9:11-12. St. James refers to this passage when he gives his approval of St. Paul's mission to convert the Gentiles. Read Acts 15:15-17.

Second, read Am 9:7. By the standards of the Old Testament, which by and large stresses the holiness of the Jewish people in their separateness, this verse is different. It says that by nature the Jewish people are no different from any other. Other peoples too have had their migrations from other lands, and somehow the LORD was responsible.

The bulk of the Old Testament is not overturned in this one verse. The LORD's relationship to Israel and his call to her is unique. Also, it is clear in many places in the Old Testament that Israel's covenant with the LORD is not due to any particular merit on her part, but to his doing, his call of her.

On the other hand, there are also places in the Old Testament where it is said that in some way the LORD is also responsible for the fate of ''the nations.'' For example, Psalm 96 proclaims that God is the king of all the nations, indeed of all creation.

The book of Amos uses sarcasm, ridicule, and strong language to condemn the northern kingdom's unfaithfulness to the LORD and it is preoccupied with the Jewish people's faithfulness. Nonetheless, the passages in Amos that include all mankind as under the care of the LORD do exist, and have been noticed by the Catholic Church since her earliest days. The Catholic Church professes that the union between Christ and his Catholic Church is meant to include all men. <<

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copyright (c) 2001 John Kelleher. All rights reserved.