In my last post we looked at the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation; that the host/bread (Latin hostia, which means ‘victim’) and cup in the Eucharist actually and really become the physical flesh and blood of Jesus during the priest’s blessing and liturgy. That before you eat of it, it has changed, even though your senses are telling you it’s just bread and wine. So the question arises, why does the Catholic Church teach this doctrine? Why do they think that Jesus wants us to physically eat Him? The answer, tragically, is how the Catholic Church views the Mass; it’s meaning and significance.
It is in the Mass, that Jesus Christ is being offered up again, physically, as a sacrifice for sin. In every Mass, in every church, all over the world, Jesus is dying again. That’s why he must be present ‘physically’ in the host and cup. The elements must become Christ’s physical body and blood so that they can be offered once again for sin. This is not a symbolic re-creation, but a literal, actual offering of the flesh and blood of our Lord to make atonement for all the sins that have been daily committed since Christ died the first time some 2,000 years ago. In Catholic teaching it’s referred to as ‘the sacrifice of the Mass’, as ‘a renewal of the sacrifice of the cross’, and ‘a perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross’.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Mass is a most exalted sacrifice. Indeed, it is ‘the most exalted of all sacrifices’, and is a continuation of the sacrifice Christ offered through His life and death. Jesus is priest, the offerer of the sacrifice, but not only that, He is the victim too, the very object of this sacrifice.
As Protestants, we believe that Christ died once for sins (Heb. 7:27, 1 Pet. 3:18):
…who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself (Heb. 7:27).
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit (1 Pet. 3:18).
His once for all death on the cross was complete in that one offering. His once and for all sacrifice on the cross, submitted humbly to the will of the Father, was perfect satisfaction for the penalty of sin, and His historic work on the cross constituted one historic event which never needs repeating (Rom. 6:9). Done, finis, complete. In fact, a continuous offering is not only vain, but worse than vain, it is blasphemy (Heb. 6:6). Never were there more truer words than Jesus Himself:
When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit (John 19:30).
Vaya con Dios mis hijas,
Dear ol’ Dad