The Sacrifice of the Mass

So as I understand it, in the Holy Supper the Father is giving us His Son that we would be made holy (sinless, etc.), but it is also we offering or holding up the Son before the Father so that the Father would receive us on behalf of the Son. It’s a both/and. The Father gives us the Son and we, in turn, plead our case by the merits or righteousness of the Son.

So the chief difference between Rome and Lutherans, then, is not who sacrifices who or what is given or offered and to whom and by whom (though certainly different areas are emphasized by the different theologians), but rather the chief difference is that Rome teaches that mere participation, regardless of faith is legitimate (ex opere operato), while we confess that proper participation is born of faith.

So the chief difference is this: do we receive the benefits because we partake, or because we believe? Because we believe. Moreover, we partake because we believe. So faith both receives and yearns for the Sacrament. So the Small Catechism once again becomes for us the most blessed and sacred teacher: “The words, “Given and shed for you” along with the eating and drinking are the main thing in the Sacrament…whoever believes these words has exactly what they say…the words ‘For you’ require all hearts to believe.” Beautiful.

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3 Responses

  1. Mark. I do enjoy your thoughts and writings, even though a question here and ther arises in my little brain. In regards to the first paragraph, would we not want to say that the Father received us in Holy Baptism (and of course at that time by the power of the Word and Holy Spirit we received Christ and His atoning sacrifice), and in the Eucharist we do not offer Christ to our Father but to His blessed people, graciously giving them His forgivness of sin, strength of faith and , renewal of our conficence that we do indeed belong to HIm? To know and to realize that my Lord has truly entered the temple of my body with his own preciesous Body and blood is truly awesome and beautiful.

  2. Yeah, I’m sure I didn’t express all that in the clearest way possible. But since St. Paul does say that as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we participate in the sacrifice of Christ (1 Cor. 10 – no, he doesn’t say “sacrifice” but the context of altar speak and sacrifice speak certainly infers it), I don’t think it wrong to say that the Body and Blood of Christ are offered as a … shall we say, reminder (?) to the Father of His Son’s sacrifice. In other words, Jesus stands now interceding on our behalf (Heb. 9:24), not repeatedly being sacrificed, but putting away sin once by the sacrifice of Himself.
    Anyway, my chief point is that given the vastness of the mystery and the many way in which it is spoken of in Scripture, maybe our chief beef with Rome is not the direction of the Sacrament (though certainly one side can be overemphasized), but that faith is necessary as the recipient of the benefits of the Lord’s Supper. Rome says, “no” (via ex opere operato) we say “yes”.

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