Year of Youth 2018

Apologetics in Minutes: Is the Mass a Sacrifice?

Last edited 11th April 2012

Apologetics in Minutes: Is the Mass a Sacrifice?

Where in the Bible does it say anything about the Mass and the notion of it being a sacrifice?

Part One - The Mass as sacrifice as seen in Malachi 1:11 and 1 Cor 10:16-18

Malachi 1:11, “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.”

When this passage from Malachi was written some 450 years before Christ, the Lord’s name was not great among the nations - the word “nations” referring to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were pagan and they worshipped numerous gods. Sacrifice was not being offered to the Lord God in all the nations. So, this verse from Malachi is essentially a prophecy that refers to the time after Christ has risen from the dead and the Lord’s name was indeed made great among the nations through the spread of the Gospel.

Now, what does it say will be happening among the nations once the Lord’s name has been made great among them? It says from the rising of the sun to its setting incense is offered to the Lord’s name and a pure offering. (Most Catholics should be familiar with this verse since it is in the Eucharistic prayer - “From east to west a perfect offering is made.”)

Let’s look at that a bit more closely. First of all, this verse is referring to the worship of God, which is the context within which sacrifices, or offerings, are made to God in Scripture. Secondly, the offering spoken of here is twofold - an offering of incense and a “pure” offering.

How many churches do you know of that offer incense at any of their worship services?

And what is this “pure offering” referring to? What is the only “pure” offering that has ever been made to God? The offering of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross at Calvary. In other words, this verse from Malachi is telling us that from the rising of the sun to its setting (all day long) some sort of worship service will be taking place among the nations (the Gentiles) in which they offer incense and the only pure offering that has ever been made - Jesus Christ.

What type of worship service do you know of that takes place in all the nations, all day long (every hour on the hour), where the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is continually offered to God? The Mass. Malachi 1:11 is a prophecy that perfectly describes what is happening at the Mass.

In the New Testament, Paul also very clearly describes the Mass as being a sacrifice when he links the “bread” and the “cup of blessing” to the sacrifices of Israel and to the practice of the Israelites eating the sacrifice that has been offered (1 Cor 10:16-18). Again, this is a description of the Mass where we participate in the body and blood of the sacrifice - Jesus Christ - by eating what has been sacrificed - Jesus Christ.

So, it is very clear, from Scripture, that the worship of God involves incense and a pure offering, or sacrifice. And, in New Testament and Old, we see the actions of the Mass described exactly as we experience them in the Catholic Church today. The Mass involves a sacrifice, the once for all - all time and all people - sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Part Two - The Letter to the Hebrews re-affirms the notion of the Mass being a Sacrifice

Let’s look first at Hebrews 5:14, “Since then we have a great high priest Who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God...” So, we see that Jesus is our high priest.

What does the Bible tell us is the function of the high priest? Heb 5:1, “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
Jesus is our high priest, and a high priest’s duty is to offer sacrifice for sin.

Now, how long is Jesus to be a high priest? Heb 5:6, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” So, Jesus is our high priest forever, and the duty of the high priest is to offer sacrifice. So, if Jesus is going to be our high priest forever, then He needs some sacrifice to offer on our behalf forever, as it says in Heb 8:3, “...hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.”

What does Jesus offer? Heb 9:12, “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.”

By reading Hebrews chapters 4 through 10, it becomes very apparent that the Old Covenant offerings of animals were merely a prelude to the pure offering (Malachi 1:11) of the New Covenant - Jesus Christ Himself. The offering of the high priests of old in the earthly Holy of Holies, was merely a dress rehearsal for the offering of the eternal high priest in the true Holy of Holies in Heaven.

Heb 9:24, “For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Jesus has entered Heaven and forever presents His once for all offering to the Father on our behalf. He is not, however, continually re-sacrificed, “for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world” (Heb 9:26), rather He eternally presents His once for all sacrifice.

Every time a sinner turns to the Father for forgiveness, Christ, on our behalf, in effect says to the Father, “See, Father...see what I did for John. For Jim. For Sharon. For Megan. For Julia. For Bob.” He eternally offers His sacrifice on our behalf.

What happens at the Mass, is the priest, acting in the person of Christ, offers to the Father that same offering that Christ offers in Heaven. Heaven and earth are intertwined at the Mass and we actually enter into the offering of Christ’s blood that our High Priest eternally makes to the Father in the Holy Place, which is why the Mass is indeed a sacrifice.

One last thought, relating to the use of incense at Mass. In Revelation 5:8 and 8:4 we see golden bowls of incense, which represent the prayers of the saints, brought before the throne of God. If they’re using incense in the heavenly Mass, what’s wrong with using incense to symbolize the prayers of the saints, here on earth, especially since Malachi 1:11 says that it will be used in worship services? “For from the rising of the sun to its setting...in every place incense if offered to my name, and a pure offering.”

(The text for this article has been used with permission from the Bible Christian Society and is written by John S. Martignoni.)



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