CCC 522 The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the “First Covenant”.1 He announces him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming.
CCC 579 This principle of integral observance of the Law not only in letter but in spirit was dear to the Pharisees. By giving Israel this principle they had led many Jews of Jesus’ time to an extreme religious zeal.2 This zeal, were it not to lapse into “hypocritical” casuistry,3 could only prepare the People for the unprecedented intervention of God through the perfect fulfillment of the Law by the only Righteous One in place of all sinners.4
CCC 580 The perfect fulfillment of the Law could be the work of none but the divine legislator, born subject to the Law in the person of the Son.5 In Jesus, the Law no longer appears engraved on tables of stone but “upon the heart” of the Servant who becomes “a covenant to the people”, because he will “faithfully bring forth justice”.6 Jesus fulfills the Law to the point of taking upon himself “the curse of the Law” incurred by those who do not “abide by the things written in the book of the Law, and do them”, for his death took place to redeem them “from the transgressions under the first covenant”.7
CCC 586 Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church.8 He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men.9 Therefore his being put to bodily death10 presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”11
CCC 614 This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices.12 First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience.13
CCC 662 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”14 The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. .. but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”15 There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him”.16 As “high priest of the good things to come” he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.17
CCC 1085 In the liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. During his earthly life Jesus announced his Paschal mystery by his teaching and anticipated it by his actions. When his Hour comes, he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father “once for all.”18 His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.
CCC 1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. .. this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.”19
CCC 1564 “Whilst not having the supreme degree of the pontifical office, and notwithstanding the fact that they depend on the bishops in the exercise of their own proper power, the priests are for all that associated with them by reason of their sacerdotal dignity; and in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, they are consecrated in order to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament.”20
CCC 2100 Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. .. ”21 The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor.22 Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”23 The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father’s love and for our salvation.24 By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.
1 Heb 9:15.
2 Cf. Rom 10:2.
3 Cf. Mt 15:31; Lk 11:39-54.
4 Cf Is 53:11; Heb 9:15.
5 Cf. Gal 4:4.
6 Jer 31:33; Is 42:3, 6.
7 Gal 3:13; 3:10; Heb 9:15.
8 Cf. Mt 8:4; 16:18; 17:24-27; Lk 17:14; Jn 4:22; 18:20.
9 Cf. Jn 2:21; Mt 12:6.
10 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.
11 Jn 4:21; cf. 4:23-24; Mt 27:5; Heb 9:11; Rev 21:22.
12 Cf. Heb 10:10.
13 Cf. Jn 10:17-18; 15:13; Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 4:10.
14 Jn 12:32.
15 Heb 9:24.
16 Heb 7:25.
17 Heb 9:11; cf. Rev 4:6-11.
18 Rom 6:10; Heb 7:27; 9:12; cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.
19 Council of Trent (1562) Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, c. 2: DS 1743; cf. Heb 9:14, 27.
20 LG 28 cf. Heb 5:1-10; 7:24; 9:11-28; Innocent I, Epist. ad Decentium:PL 20,554A; St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 2,22:PG 35,432B.
21 PS 51:17.
22 Cf. Am 5:21-25; Isa 1:10-20.
23 Mt 9:13; 12:7; Cf. Hos 6:6.
24 Cf. Heb 9:13-14.