THE SACRIFICE OF REDEMPTION
Redemption, that could have been effected otherwise, has been effected by way of sacrifice. Jesus is a true priest, who offered a true sacrifice. But where can we find in the work of redemption, the elements of a true sacrifice ? For the immolation, no difficulty : the Passion suffices to it. But it was the work of the executioners, and not of Jesus : therefore it can not, by itself alone, constitute the ritual oblation that is the specific external and sensible action of the priest. Where can we find this offering, this oblation, absolutely necessary, if the death of Jesus has to be a true sacrifice ?
At the Last Supper :
On Holy Thursday, Jesus took bread, blessed it, and in the same way the cup, saying : "Eat, this is my body, given (to death) for you; drink, this is my blood which is shed for you and for the multitude (of the souls) in remission of sins." What to say ? If not that the Christ, put symbolically into state of victim, commits to God for us the bloody death of which he covers the sacramental signs of bread and wine.
His mystical immolation (symbolic and mystical, it's all one) commits him to effective and painful immolation of Calvary. Through the image of his passion, he refers to and dedicates himself to his passion itself. He devotes himself to the atoning death and he constitutes himself the debtor of it with respect to God, for our salvation. He no longer belongs to himself : "The grave now has rights on its prey." Therefore, it is from that moment that, according to the Eastern interpretation (resumed by the Latin Church), three days and three nights will pass without interruption on the tomb of Christ in wait of His Resurrection : Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, three days. I permit myself to insist on that, because if I asked the question to most Christians, they would not know what to answer me, I am intimately convinced of this, and yet we affirm it all the time in our Creed : three days and three nights.
So, you feel, he put himself in state of victim from his offering of Holy Thursday. How important it is to understand this, because it's the same way we do the offering at mass. All this is already leading to mass.
But who ignores that the realization of the Passover, it is the sacrifice of the Passion ? And that the kingdom of God date of the redemption ? It is therefore that, already here, the sacrifice of passion is going on, redemption has begun. So here he is, the Lamb of God, lamb prophesied by fifteen centuries of Easter celebrations, lamb whose blood, at this very moment, delivers from death and from the sevitude of sin; Here is his sacrifice : here is already, at the Last Supper, the sacrifice of Calvary : the Last Supper looks at the Cross and dedicates to it the divine lamb.
The Last Supper introduces the new Covenant which abolishes the old one. It does not announce, it concludes : "This IS the new covenant." But what ? Isn't the new covenant the work of the redemptive sacrifice ? So, here again, it is the sacrifice of redemption, which already is underway. This is the new covenant in the blood of Christ, price of our sins, offered to God to be paid at the Cross.
(Father GEORGES FINET, spiritual father of MARTHE ROBIN, extract from a conference on Holy Mass.)