Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus’ Last Supper and redemptive mission. Supporting material comes from St. Augustine’s “Tractates on the Gospel of John”.

III. CHRIST OFFERED HIMSELF TO HIS FATHER FOR OUR SINS

Christ's whole life is an offering to the Father

606 The Son of God, who came down "from heaven, not to do (his) own will, but the will of him who sent (him)",413 said on coming into the world, "Lo, I have come to do your will, O God." "and by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."414 From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces the Father's plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work."415 The sacrifice of Jesus "for the sins of the whole world"416 expresses his loving communion with the Father. "The Father loves me, because I lay down my life", said the Lord, "(for) I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father."417

607 The desire to embrace his Father's plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus' whole life,418 for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, "and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour."419 and again, "Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?"420 From the cross, just before "It is finished", he said, "I thirst."421

"The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world"

608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world".422 By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover.423 Christ's whole life expresses his mission: "to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."424

Jesus freely embraced the Father's redeeming love

609 By embracing in his human heart the Father's love for men, Jesus "loved them to the end", for "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."425 In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men.426 Indeed, out of love for his Father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."427 Hence the sovereign freedom of God's Son as he went out to his death.428

At the Last Supper Jesus anticipated the free offering of his life

610 Jesus gave the supreme expression of his free offering of himself at the meal shared with the twelve Apostles "on the night he was betrayed".429 On the eve of his Passion, while still free, Jesus transformed this Last Supper with the apostles into the memorial of his voluntary offering to the Father for the salvation of men: "This is my body which is given for you." "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."430

611 The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice.431 Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it.432 By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth."433

St. Augustine discusses Christ as the Lamb of God in his “Tractates on the Gospel of John” (Tractate 7 John 1:34-51).

5. The next day, John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he says, Behold the Lamb of God! Assuredly, in a special sense, the Lamb; for the disciples were also called lambs: Behold, I send you as lambs in the midst of wolves. Matthew 10:16 They were also called light: You are the light of the world; Matthew 5:14 but in another sense is He called so, concerning whom it was said, That was the true light, which lights every man that comes into the world. John 1:9 In like manner was He called the dove in a special sense, alone without stain, without sin; not one whose sins have been washed away, but One who never had stain. For what? Because John said concerning the Lord, Behold the Lamb of God, was not John himself a lamb? Was he not a holy man? Was he not the friend of the Bridegroom? Wherefore, with a special meaning, said John of Him, This is the Lamb of God; because solely by the blood of this Lamb alone could men be redeemed.

6. My brethren, if we acknowledge our price, that it is the blood of the Lamb, who are they who this day celebrate the festival of the blood of I know not what woman, and how ungrateful are they! The gold was snatched, they say, from the ear of a woman, and the blood ran, and the gold was placed on a pair of scales or on a balance, and the advantage was much on the side of the blood. If the blood of a woman was sufficiently weighty to outweigh the gold, what power to outweigh the world has the blood of the Lamb by whom the world was made? And, indeed, that spirit, I know not who, was pacified by the blood that he should depress the weight. Impure spirits knew that Jesus Christ would come, they had heard of His coming from the angels, they had heard of it from the prophets, and they expected it. For if they were not expecting it, why did they exclaim, What have we to do with You? Are You come before the time to destroy us? We know who You are; the Holy One of God. Mark 1:24 They expected that He would come, but they were ignorant of the time. But what have you heard in the psalm regarding Jerusalem? For Your servants have taken pleasure in her stones, and will pity the dust thereof. You shall arise, says he, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time has come that You will have mercy upon her. When the time came for God to have mercy, the Lamb came. What sort of a Lamb whom wolves fear? What sort of a Lamb is it who, when slain, slew a lion? For the devil is called a lion, going about and roaring, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 By the blood of the Lamb the lion was vanquished. Behold the spectacles of Christians. And what is more: they with the eyes of the flesh behold vanity, we with the eyes of the heart behold truth. Do not think, brethren, that our Lord God has dismissed us without spectacles; for if there are no spectacles, why have ye come together today? Behold, what we have said you saw, and you exclaimed; you would not have exclaimed if you had not seen. And this is a great thing to see in the whole world, the lion vanquished by the blood of the Lamb: members of Christ delivered from the teeth of the lions, and joined to the body of Christ. Therefore some spirit or other contrived the counterfeit that His image should be bought for blood, because he knew that the human race was at some time to be redeemed by the precious blood. For evil spirits counterfeit certain shadows of honor to themselves, that they may deceive those who follow Christ. So much so, my brethren, that those who seduce by means of amulets, by incantations, by the devices of the enemy, mingle the name of Christ with their incantations: because they are not now able to seduce Christians, so as to give them poison they add some honey, that by means of the sweet the bitter may be concealed, and be drunk to ruin. So much so, that I know that the priest of that Pilleatus was sometimes in the habit of saying, Pilleatus himself also is a Christian. Why so, brethren, unless that they were not able otherwise to seduce Christians?

Footnotes

413 ⇒ Jn 6:38.
414 ⇒ Heb 10:5-10.
415 ⇒ Jn 4:34.
416 1 ⇒ Jn 2:2.
417 ⇒ Jn 10:17; ⇒ 14:31.
418 Cf ⇒ Lk 12:50; ⇒ 22:15; ⇒ Mt 16:21-23.
419 ⇒ Jn 12:27.
420 ⇒ Jn 18:11.
421 ⇒ Jn 19:30; ⇒ 19:28.
422 ⇒ Jn 1:29; cf. ⇒ Lk 3:21; ⇒ Mt 3:14-15; ⇒ Jn 1:36.
423 ⇒ Is 53:7, ⇒ 12; cf. Jer 11:19; ⇒ Ex 12:3-14; ⇒ Jn 19:36; ⇒ 1 Cor 5:7.
424 ⇒ Mk 10:45.
425 ⇒ Jn 13:1; ⇒ 15:13.
426 Cf. ⇒ Heb 2:10, ⇒ 17-18; ⇒ 4:15; ⇒ 5:7-9.
427 ⇒ Jn 10:18.
428 Cf. ⇒ Jn 18:4-6; ⇒ Mt 26:53.
429 Roman Missal, EP III; cf. ⇒ Mt 26:20; ⇒ I Cor 11:23.
430 ⇒ Lk 22:19; ⇒ Mt 26:28; cf. ⇒ I5.7Cor 5:7.
431 ⇒ 1 Cor 11:25.
432 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:19.
433 ⇒ Jn 17:19; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1752; 1764.