CCC 610 Jesus gave the supreme expression of his free offering of himself at the meal shared with the twelve Apostles “on the night he was betrayed”.1 On the eve of his Passion, while still free, Jesus transformed this Last Supper with the apostles into the memorial of his voluntary offering to the Father for the salvation of men: “This is my body which is given for you.” “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”2
CCC 611 The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice.3 Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it.4 By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: “For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”5
CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,6 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”7 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.8 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.9 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”10
1 Roman Missal, EP III; cf. Mt 26:20; I Cor 11:23.
2 Lk 22:19; Mt 26:28; cf. I Cor 5:7.
3 1 Cor 11:25.
4 Cf. Lk 22:19.
5 Jn 17:19; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1752; 1764.
6 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.
7 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.
8 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.
9 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.
10 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.