CCC 609 By embracing in his human heart the Father’s love for men, Jesus “loved them to the end”, for “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”1 In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men.2 Indeed, out of love for his Father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”3 Hence the sovereign freedom of God’s Son as he went out to his death.4
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,5 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”6 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.7 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.8 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.”9
CCC 617 The Council of Trent emphasizes the unique character of Christ’s sacrifice as “the source of eternal salvation”10 and teaches that “his most holy Passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for us.”11 And the Church venerates his cross as she sings: “Hail, O Cross, our only hope.”12
CCC 1009 Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father’s will.13 The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing.14
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.”15
CCC 2606 All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation. The Psalter gives us the key to prayer in Christ. In the “today” of the Resurrection the Father says: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”16
The Letter to the Hebrews expresses in dramatic terms how the prayer of Jesus accomplished the victory of salvation: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”17
CCC 2741 Jesus also prays for us – in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father.18 If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.
CCC 2825 “Although he was a Son, [Jesus] learned obedience through what he suffered.”19 How much more reason have we sinful creatures to learn obedience – we who in him have become children of adoption. We ask our Father to unite our will to his Son’s, in order to fulfill his will, his plan of salvation for the life of the world. We are radically incapable of this, but united with Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit, we can surrender our will to him and decide to choose what his Son has always chosen: to do what is pleasing to the Father.20
In committing ourselves to [Christ], we can become one spirit with him, and thereby accomplish his will, in such wise that it will be perfect on earth as it is in heaven.21
Consider how Jesus Christ] teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say “thy will be done in me or in us,” but “on earth,” the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven.22
1 Jn 13:1; 15:13.
2 Cf. Heb 2:10,17-18; 4:15; 5:7-9.
3 Jn 10:18.
4 Cf. Jn 18:4-6; Mt 26:53.
5 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.
6 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.
7 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.
8 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.
9 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.
10 Heb 5:9.
11 Council of Trent: DS 1529.
12 LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis.
13 Cf. Mk 14:33-34; Heb 5:7-8.
14 Cf. Rom 5:19-21.
15 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.
16 Ps 2:7-8; cf. Acts 13:33.
17 Heb 5:7-9.
18 Cf. Heb 5:7; 7:25; 9:24
19 Heb 5:8.
20 Cf. Jn 8:29.
21 Origen, De orat. 26 PG 11, 501B.
22 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Mt. 19, 5 PG 57, 280.