Last week, I wrote about our approach to the Mass. To recap, like Moses of old at the burning bush, we must stand on holy ground spiritually prepared. First, outside of Mass we must grow in prayer. Second, observe the hour fast before Communion. Additionally, if we are conscious of serious sin make peace with God in the confessional. (Jn 20: 23; 1 Cor 11: 27) This allows us to stand on holy ground as it were. This week, I would like to talk about the Mass as sacrifice.
The Mass continues the ancient Jewish Passover, in that “the eating of the Passover lamb and unleavened bread was accompanied by the drinking of multiple cups of wine.” Furthermore, the one presiding the meal---the father of the family---would bless the bread saying, “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who brings forth bread from the earth” and the wine, “Blessed are you, O Lord of God King of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine.” In ritual observance, the son would ask his father, “Why is this night different from other nights?” The father would respond, “This is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” As one scholar noted, “[the] Jewish tradition saw the Passover sacrifice and the Passover meal as making them spiritual participants in the first Passover night, no matter how many centuries had passed since the original Exodus.”
Christ our Savior, in the Last Supper, not only institutes the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders, but also refashions the Passover. Christ offers His Body and Blood for the sacrifice of the Cross. He becomes the Passover Lamb Who dies for us sinners. Hence the utterance at Mass, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.” As the Jewish father would recall God’s ancient deliverance, in the Mass we recall Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The Catechism, on this point, teaches, “When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover…the sacrifice of Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present.” The Mass powerfully draws every Christian believer to the upper room and Calvary, bridging the events of 2,000 years ago to the present hour.
Fr. Daniel O. Kingsley