The Sacrifice of the Mass is not a re-sacrificing of Jesus as some allege. It is the "once for all" sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. There are two parts to a sacrifice: the death of the victim, and the offering up of the fruits by the High Priest. Jesus' death took place once and is in the past. Yet, the fruits of His sacrifice must be applied to every believer past, present and future. In the book of Revelation, Jesus, who is in heaven, is referred to 29 times as the "Lamb." The Word of God portrays Jesus as a sacrificial lamb because, as the High Priest of the New Covenant, He is continually offering up the fruits of His Sacrifice. We partake of those fruits when we receive the Eucharist at Mass. Ironically, some of the most vocal critics of the Mass claim to be "washed by the blood of the Lamb" – blood that was shed two thousand years ago. Are they re-sacrificing Jesus?
Many Bible Christians don't believe in performing rituals. They claim that Christianity, unlike Judaism, is not a religion. They say that it's a relationship (with God); therefore rituals are unnecessary. However, Christianity is a religion, a religion where believers can have a personal relationship with God. In James 1:26-27 we read the following: "If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." When James calls Christianity a religion, he is commenting on its nature. The Greek word that is translated into "religion" is threskeia (θρησκεία). Threskeia means ceremonial observance, which is what a ritual is. This is the same word used by Paul to describe Judaism in Acts 26:5. If rituals have no place in Christianity, why does the Word of God refer to it in ritualistic terms?
Malachi 1:11 speaks prophetically of the Mass: "From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts." The sacrifice spoken of is not the Judaic sacrifice. The passage refers to a pure sacrifice that will take place everywhere among the nations (Gentiles. This makes perfect sense as we are living in "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). Psalm 110  provides even more detail. Verse 4 reads, "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, 'You [Jesus] are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.'" In Genesis 14:18 Melchizedek offered a sacrifice of bread and wine. So Psalm 110 is a prediction that Jesus would offer a perpetual sacrifice involving bread and wine. The Sacrifice of the Mass involves the offering of bread and wine.
The early Church understood the Mass to be a true sacrifice. Clement, the fourth bishop of Rome, wrote in the year 95 AD, "Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices" (1 Clement 44:4). A few years later in the year 110 AD, Ignatius of Antioch said the following: "Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist, for there is but one body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with His blood, and one single altar of sacrifice, even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons" (Letter to the Philadelphians No. 4)
But, some will say, "I don't get anything out of the Mass." To the uninformed person, a candy bar seems more exciting than a million-dollar check. The colorful wrapper is certainly more pleasing to the eye, and you have a piece of candy inside. How can a plain piece of paper with handwriting on it compete with that? To the uninformed, the Mass may be viewed similarly. If you don't know what it is all about you, aren't going to understand its importance. And if you aren't open to what it has to offer, you won't get anything out of it.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church wisely points out that our Yes to Jesus Christ is twofold: a trustful abandonment to God and a loving assent to all that he has revealed to us. This is possible only by means of the action of the Holy Spirit (Nos. 150,176). If you are one of those who "doesn't get anything out of the Mass," Pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to be open to all the Mass has to offer. It will change your life.
Copyright © 2001 StayCatholic.com
For Further Study
The Early Church Fathers on The Mass (Free)
Books - Scripture and the Mystery of the Mass by Scott Hahn and Regis J. Flaherty and The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn and Understanding the Mass - 100 Questions / 100 Answers by Mike Aquilina and If Your Mind Wanders at Mass by Thomas Howard and The Mass of the Early Christians (2nd Edition) by Mike Aquilina and The Catholic Mass - Revealed!
CD - The Lamb's Supper - The Mass as Heaven on Earth [EWTN 13 Part Series - 5 CDs] by Scott Hahn and How to Get the Most Out of Mass by Scott Hahn
DVD - The Lamb's Supper - The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina
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