One Final Sacrifice…
Jesus made one final sacrifice for the atonement of our sins:
For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him. -Hebrews 9:24-28 NAB
When Christ died on the cross, it was the final sacrifice that the world needed to receive God’s forgiveness. The Jewish high priest had to make a new sacrifice continually each year, but Christ’s sacrifice would last for all of eternity.
The Mass is said to make that sacrifice real again. When we take part in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are experiencing Christ’s true sacrifice. But doesn’t this contradict today’s verse? Doesn’t this mean that Jesus is continually being re-sacrificed?
No. The Church teaches that Christ’s final sacrifice is re-presented, as in made present again. The same sacrifice transcends time. God is timeless, and the Son’s sacrifice is, as well.
It is bad enough that each one of our sins helped to drive the nails into the hands of Jesus. We do not need to add to that by re-sacrificing Him over and over again. His one sacrifice was enough to overcome all of our sins: the sins we’ve made and the sins we will make.
In the Mass, Jesus’ one final sacrifice re-presents itself to us so that we might worship the Lord who saved us from our sins. May we always remember that by approaching the altar, we are actually approaching the cross.