CCC 611 The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice.1 Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it.2 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.”3
CCC 614 This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices.4 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.5
CCC 2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.6 Thanksgiving precedes the event: “Father, I thank you for having heard me,” which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: “I know that you always hear me,” which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the “treasure”; in him abides his Son’s heart; the gift is given “as well.”7
The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation.8 A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.
CCC 2746 When “his hour” came, Jesus prayed to the Father.9 His prayer, the longest transmitted by the Gospel, embraces the whole economy of creation and salvation, as well as his death and Resurrection. The prayer of the Hour of Jesus always remains his own, just as his Passover “once for all” remains ever present in the liturgy of his Church.
CCC 2747 Christian Tradition rightly calls this prayer the “priestly” prayer of Jesus. It is the prayer of our high priest, inseparable from his sacrifice, from his passing over (Passover) to the Father to whom he is wholly “consecrated.”10
CCC 2749 Jesus fulfilled the work of the Father completely; his prayer, like his sacrifice, extends until the end of time. The prayer of this hour fills the end-times and carries them toward their consummation. Jesus, the Son to whom the Father has given all things, has given himself wholly back to the Father, yet expresses himself with a sovereign freedom11 by virtue of the power the Father has given him over all flesh. The Son, who made himself Servant, is Lord, the Pantocrator. Our high priest who prays for us is also the one who prays in us and the God who hears our prayer.
CCC 2750 By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us: “Our Father!” His priestly prayer fulfills, from within, the great petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: concern for the Father’s name;12 passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory);13 the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation;14 and deliverance from evil.15
CCC 2751 Finally, in this prayer Jesus reveals and gives to us the “knowledge,” inseparably one, of the Father and of the Son,16 which is the very mystery of the life of prayer.
CCC 2812 Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice.17 This is the heart of his priestly prayer: “Holy Father. .. for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”18 Because he “sanctifies” his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father.19 At the end of Christ’s Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”20
CCC 2815 This petition embodies all the others. Like the six petitions that follow, it is fulfilled by the prayer of Christ. Prayer to our Father is our prayer, if it is prayed in the name of Jesus.21 In his priestly prayer, Jesus asks: “Holy Father, protect in your name those whom you have given me.”22
CCC 2821 This petition is taken up and granted in the prayer of Jesus which is present and effective in the Eucharist; it bears its fruit in new life in keeping with the Beatitudes.23
CCC 2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.24 In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.”25 The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.26 Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”27
CCC 2850 The last petition to our Father is also included in Jesus’ prayer: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.”28 It touches each of us personally, but it is always “we” who pray, in communion with the whole Church, for the deliverance of the whole human family. The Lord’s Prayer continually opens us to the range of God’s economy of salvation. Our interdependence in the drama of sin and death is turned into solidarity in the Body of Christ, the “communion of saints.”29
1 1 Cor 11:25.
2 Cf. Lk 22:19.
3 Jn 17:19; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1752; 1764.
4 Cf. Heb 10:10.
5 Cf. Jn 10:17-18; 15:13; Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 4:10.
6 Cf. Jn 11:41-42.
7 Mt 6:21, 33.
8 Cf. Jn 17.
9 Cf. Jn 17.
10 Cf. Jn 17:11, 13, 19.
11 Cf. Jn 17:11, 13, 19, 24.
12 Cf. Jn 17:6, 11, 12, 26.
13 Cf. Jn 17:1, 5, 10, 22, 23-26.
14 Cf. Jn 17:2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24.
15 Cf. Jn 17:15.
16 Cf. Jn 17:3, 6-10, 25.
17 Cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31, Jn 8:28; 17:8; 17:17-19.
18 Jn 17:11, 19.
19 Cf. Ezek 20:39; 36:20-21; Jn 17:6.
20 Phil 2:9-11.
21 Cf. Jn 14:13; 15:16; 16:24, 26.
22 Jn 17:11.
23 Cf. Jn 17:17-20; Mt 5:13-16; 6:24; 7:12-13.
24 Cf. Mt 4:1-11; 26:36-44.
25 Jn 17:11; Cf. Mk 13:9, 23, 33-37; 14:38; Lk 12:35-40.
26 Cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Pet 5:8.
27 Rev 16:15.
28 Jn 17:15.
29 Cf. RP 16.