I remember about a year ago, when I was working at a grocery store. A fellow Catholic came through my line and as we were talking the topic changed to religion. She said “people fail to realize that Jesus was the last Jew and the first Catholic.” Ever since then I have always just loved that saying. But as I am, I would not wish to believe something that is false. So is this a fair statement to make?
Although Jesus Christ is the founder and head of what we know as the Catholic Church, it would be something of an anachronism to call Jesus a “Catholic” because, as far as we know, that description was not applied to anyone until the end of the first century or beginning of the second. (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnæans) This would also be the case for calling Jesus a “Christian” because that description was not applied to anyone until the faith had spread to Antioch, long after Jesus’ ascension. (Acts 11:26)
Catholic is in the Faith, not in the word. Christ most certainly is Catholic, considering that the Church is His Body on Earth.
Peace and God bless!
I would say the statement is problematic on a number of levels. Lets start with the idea that Jesus was the last Jew. The Catholic Church in recent years has stated quite clearly that the Jewish People today still have the covenant with God that they made through Moses and the Patriarchs. Further, even if we were to accept the replacement hypothesis (i.e. that the Church replaced the Jews) there was still a period of time after Jesus where people who had been Jews before Jesus’s death and resurrection were still converting from their judaism to Christianity.
Now, I am not sure I agree with the statement that Jesus was the first Catholic Either. Catholic ultimately is a description of the Church and being Catholic implies membership in that Church. Now Christ is certainly the head of the Church, but Christ is not a member of the Church in the conventional sense. After all, he isn’t a believer, he is the object of the belief.
Just my thoughts on it.
When I read the Psalms, I can’t help but think that King David was the first Catholic. I know this is incorrect, but you can surely see a lot of Catholicism in his writings.