Just for Catholics

The Mass: Re-Presenting Jesus' Sacrifice

Question: With regard to the "once-for-all" sacrifice of Jesus, I believe it is a supernatural act that transcends the matter, space and time of the physical cosmos. There is more to time than I understand. Time warps. Could it be that the sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus also transcends time? This is speculation I am sharing with you.

Answer: The doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ is so important and so clearly set out in Scripture, that it would be dangerous and irreverent to the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible, if we had to rely on our thoughts and speculations.

The Bible presents the sacrifice of Christ as an event accomplished in the sphere of space and time of the physical cosmos. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He had a real physical body, and His disciples saw, heard, touched and ate with Him. Jesus experienced agony, pain and thirst whilst He hang on the cross. He was crucified in a specific place called Golgotha, in a specific city called Jerusalem, in a specific time, almost 2000 years ago when Pilate was governor of Judea and Caiphas was high priest. The wounds in His body were real and His blood was literally shed. After He died, He was buried in a tomb in the garden of Joseph from Arimathea. On the third day He rose from the grave, and was seen alive by many witnesses. Afterwards, He ascended into heaven and declared “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:18).

God's purpose for the sacrifice of the Lamb is eternal (cf. 1 Peter 1:20; Revelations 13:8). The benefits of His once-for-all sacrifice are also abiding and eternal (Hebrews 9:12). On the basis of His sacrifice, Christ continues to make intercessions for His own (Hebrews 7:25). But the sacrifice itself is an accomplished historical event (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12,26,28; 10:10).

Please take time to read the book of Hebrews, slowly and prayerfully, and notice how the author argues convincingly that Christ’s sacrifice was done; it is complete; it is finished! The One who once hang on the cross is now sitting down in heaven. Mission accomplished!

However, the Catholic Church teaches that the sacrifice of Christ is “daily renewed” and that the “the work of our redemption is carried on." "He daily offers Himself upon our altars for our redemption." "A Sacrifice which the Church is accordingly wont to offer daily." (Catechism of the Council of Trent; Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church; Mediator Dei, Pius XII; Mirae Caritatis, Leo XIII).

The Bible refutes that doctrine: "Every (Levitical) priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:11,12). The daily offering of the Old Testament priests were not replaced by the daily offering of Christ on Catholic altars, but by the "one sacrifice for sins forever" offered by Jesus on the cross.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A