Dr. Scott Hahn, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, speaks on “Paschal Sacrifice: A Heavenly Banquet for Earthly Beggars” at the “Supper of the Lamb: Mass at Heaven on Earth” Conference in 2011. via
This video is a bit longer than an hour, but is well worth the listen.
“Calvary not only a sacrifice, but the supreme sacrifice of all times. But Ratzinger was the one who stated the obvious that I had never seen before when he pointed out that nobody standing at Calvary on that day, Good Friday, would have gone home and described their experience in terms of a sacrifice. Why not? Because it took place outside the [temple] walls. It took place far from the temple where there were no altars, there were no priests dressed in vestments, there was no sacrifice. What they would have gone home and recounted would have been nothing more than a Roman execution, plain and simple. And in great brutality too.
So the question became for me, and suddenly for Chris, how does a Roman execution suddenly get transformed into a sacrifice that all Christians agree on? And the supreme sacrifice that retires all of the animal offerings to boot? And I pressed Chris the same way Ratzinger had pressed me. Because it is not something that is easily answered. Especially when we remember that most all of the early believers were Jewish Christians who simply lacked the categories to translate a Roman execution into the supreme sacrifice.
And I pointed out to him again what Ratzinger had shown me, namely that it had happened very early through the work of the Holy Spirit, through the teaching of the Apostles as we find for instance, perhaps earliest of all in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In First Corinthians 5:7 what does Paul announce? “Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. for us, therefore let us keep the feast.” In the subsequent chapters 6-11 he goes on to describe that feast in terms we recognize as the Holy Eucharist especially by the time he gets to chapter 11.
“Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed” is what really opened my eyes to see that the only way that the early church could interpret an execution as a sacrifice on Good Friday was by rewinding the tape, by taking a giant step and looking at what happened on Friday in the light of what Jesus did on Thursday. What was he doing in the upper room with his disciples on Holy Thursday? He was celebrating the Passover of the Old Covenant one last time, but that is not all he was doing. He was fulfilling it as the lamb.
But he wasn’t just fulfilling it as the lamb of God sent to retire the Passover, he was transforming the old into the new. The Passover of ancient Israel became the Eucharist of the New Covenant. And so the disciples in the midst of this familiar liturgy which they had experienced since childhood, suddenly hear something strange. Sort of out of the rubrics.
What did he say? This is my body which will be given for you? Is that written down anywhere? No, he just added it. This is my body which will be given up… What kind of rhetorical insertion is that?! And near the end of the meal they heard something else. And that is “this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the New Covenant.” Could be translated New Testament. [The Greek could go either way]
The blood of the new covenant, new testament, poured out for many for the remission of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.
And again they must have been scratching their heads. What is he talking about? What is he doing? What is this new rhetoric, this additional ritual? And I suspect they were wondering even as they left that night and walked with him to the garden of Gethsemane.”
– Starting at 27:00 and onward (emphasis mine)