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HE BECAME INCARNATE TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF FOR US
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, the Annunciation, April 08, 2013
Isa.7:10-14, Ps. 39, Heb. 10:4-10, Luke 1:26-38


"When he said above, ‘Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings' (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will.' He abolished the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:8-10).


Truly, "it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). The sacrifices of the Old Testament were only types or foreshadowings of the true sacrifice of Jesus Christ that was able to take away our sins. He came to fulfill the Old Testament sacrifices in his own blood. He was the true lamb of sacrifice that washed away our sins in his death (1 Pet. 1:18-19), "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), the Paschal lamb who died so that the Israelites would not die, whose blood saved them from death, who died instead of them. At the annunciation Christ was given a mortal body to be able to die in sacrifice for the sins of the world, so that by his blood poured out on the cross he might redeem us from our sins and from death or separation from God, which was the punishment for sins. His death was the death of our death. But to be able to die he had to become incarnate with a mortal body. This began today, nine months before Christmas, with the annunciation of his birth. "To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that is incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer" (St. Leo the Great, pope, Breviary, March 25).


We rejoice today, "for Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Cor. 5:7). He is the true Paschal lamb, whose death freed us from death, that is, from separation from God, so that we might be united to God and live eternally with him in light. By his sacrifice he removed our guilt. He suffered for us the death and separation from God that we should have suffered as a punishment for our sins. He suffered it instead of us on the cross, thereby paying our debt, serving our sentence, to take away our sins. He is the lamb of sacrifice, the Lamb of God, who takes away our sins (John 1:29). Unlike the Old Testament sacrifices, his sacrifice was able to take away sins. "He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12). His blood had the power to redeem us, fulfilling what the ancient sacrifices symbolized. It was through the atoning power of Christ's sacrifice that God forgave ahead of time, by way of anticipation, the sins of the Old Testament. Thus "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).


This is how Christ redeemed us; and he left us his sacrifice in the Mass, which makes present for us the once and for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross, so that we might offer it daily with him to the Father in the Holy Spirit as our act of worship for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. The principal meaning of the priesthood is to offer this one and only propitiatory sacrifice to God for his glory and for the salvation of the world. As we offer it, we also preach the gospel, that is, the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

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