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THE EUCHARIST MAKES PRESENT THE SACRIFICE THAT REDEEMS US FROM OUR SINS
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 5th Week of the Year, February 11, 2012
1 Kings 12:26-32, 13:33-34, Ps. 105, Mark 8:1-10


"And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd" (Mark 8:6).


This is the account of the multiplication of the seven loaves to feed four thousand people. It is an anticipation of the Eucharist, in which on the night before he was crucified for the sins of the world (1 Cor. 15:3) Jesus took bread, and said, "This is my body which is given for you" (Luke 22:19), and over the wine he said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28). It is his body and blood offered in sacrifice to his Father in love and submission unto death, a sacrifice pleasing to the Father for our redemption. Moreover it is the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to take way the sins of the world (John 1:29). Christ is the lamb of sacrifice who died in our place and instead of us who should have died for our sins. He died for us and instead of us, substituting for us. As our substitute he suffered the punishment that we should have suffered for our sins. Thus he died as a just punishment for our sins.


The righteous wrath of God (Rom. 1:18) exhausted itself on him instead of on us for our sins. It was absorbed in his body on the cross so that we could go free and absolved, our just death sentence having been served by him for us, on our behalf. Christ redeemed us from the just curse and condemnation of the law for our sins, becoming himself "a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13), thus shielding us from this curse of the law, which we deserved for our sins, by taking it on himself instead, thus saving us from it. Thus our sin was justly condemned and punished in his flesh on the cross (Rom. 8:3), in order to fulfill for us the just requirement of the law, that we die for our sins (Rom. 8:4). Thus he redeemed us from the just condemnation and curse of the law for our sins, and so "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).


"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree ... By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pet. 2:24). The death of Christ shows that God is just in that God justly punished in his Son the Old Testament sins that he seemed to merely pass over without demanding proper expiation and reparation. The reparation was paid in full in Christ's death on the cross, for Christ is the one "whom God put forwarded as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins" (Rom. 3:25). These past sins are justly propitiated and expiated in his body in his death on the cross.


Christ is the one "who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood" (Rev. 1:5), when we believe in him. His blood poured out on the cross has redeemed us and paid our debt of suffering in punishment for our sins. Christ is the one who is "making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20).


The Eucharist is the great memorial of the sacrifice through which we were redeemed, and more still it makes this redeeming sacrifice present for us so that we can participate in it, in this death which redeems us from our sins, "for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor. 11:26). This is the saving death of which Isaiah prophesied, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). "The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6). In his death is our life and salvation. By his death our sins are forgiven. The cross is not just an example of God's love, or merely a martyr's death. It is the sacrifice by which we were redeemed.

 

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