Ratzinger on the sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharist

[In Christ’s preaching] all paths leads into the mystery of him who proves the truth of his love and his message in suffering. The words he spoke at the Last Supper … represent the final shaping of this. They offer nothing entirely unexpected, but rather what has already been shaped and adumbrated in all these paths, and yet they reveal anew what was signified throughout: the institution of the Eucharist is an anticipation of his death; it is the undergoing of a spiritual death. For Jesus shares himself out, he shares himself as the one who has been split up and torn apart into body and blood. Thus, the eucharistic words of Jesus are the answer to Bultmann’s question about how Jesus underwent his death; in these words he undergoes a spiritual death, or, to put it more accurately, in these words Jesus transforms death into the spiritual act of affirmation, into the act of self-sharing love; into the act of adoration, which is offered to God, then from God is made available to men. Both are essentially interdependent: the words at the Last Supper without the death would be, so to speak, an issue of unsecured currency; and again, the death without these words would be a mere execution without any discernable point to it. Yet the two together constitute this new event, in which the senselessness of death is given meaning; in which what is irrational is transformed and made rational and articulate; in which the destruction of love, which is what death means in itself, becomes in fact the means of verifying and establishing it, of its enduring constancy. If, then, we want to know how Jesus himself intended his death to be understood, how he accepted it, what it means, then we must reflect on these words; and, contrariwise, we must regard them as being constantly guaranteed by the pledge of the blood that was his witness.[*]

[*] Joseph Ratzinger, God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press 2003), pp.29-30.


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