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JESUS, THE NEW PASCHAL LAMB
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, of the Lord's Supper, April 17, 2014
Exod. 12:1-8, 11-14, Ps. 115, 1 Cor. 11:23-26, John 13:1-15
Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.
"The blood shall be a sign for you where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt" (Exod. 12:13).
Today is Thursday of the Lord's Supper, the day on which Jesus instituted the Eucharist with his apostles at the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal (Matt. 26:17; Luke 22:15-16).
For the Passover supper in Egypt the Israelites immolated a lamb, one for each household. The Lord instructed Moses that they were to kill their lambs toward the evening and then "take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them" (Exod. 12:7). Then the Lord said, "I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt" (Exod. 17:12). But this plague of death will not enter the houses of the Israelites, where the blood of the Passover lamb was on their doors. The blood of the lamb saved them from death. The lamb was killed and sacrificed so that the firstborn of the Israelites would not die. He saved them from death by his death.
Christ is the new "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). Like the paschal lamb, he died instead of us who believe in him. Instead of us dying for our sins, he died for them (1 Cor. 15:3). By his death he saved us from death for our sins.
The Lamb of God died in our place for our sins. And since this Lamb is the Son of God, his death satisfied the justice of an all-just God on behalf of all who put their faith in him. His blood was shed on the cross in payment for our debt of suffering and death in punishment for our sins. He suffered our punishment for our sins for us. "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers ... with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Christ "died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (1 Pet. 3:18).
Christ is the new and true Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God, the lamb of sacrifice, whose blood shed on the cross saves us from death for our sins and reconciles us with God, for his death made just and adequate reparation and satisfaction for our sins.
At the Last Supper Jesus transformed wine into his blood, saying, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28). His death on the cross was offered to God in an anticipatory way at the Last Supper; and in the Sacrifice of the Mass his once for all, once and only, unrepeatable sacrifice on the cross is made present for us so that we can offer it with him to the Father in the Holy Spirit for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. Then we eat his flesh and drink his blood for the life of our spirit.
It is the mission of the Church, given to her by the Son, who received it from the Father, to proclaim this good news of salvation to the ends of the earth and invite all to believe in Christ and enter into his Church so that they might have the God-desired and God-provided human context in which they can live this new life sacramentally and have all the supports that God has given to us to this end.
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