Q. Jesus said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” How does our Catholic Church get from remembrance to the idea of calling the mass a sacrifice?
A. The Greek word ANAMNESIS is the Greek word that translates into English as REMEMBER. It would seem to the casual reader of the Gospels that all Jesus is asking for us to do is to Remember his sacrifice.
19And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.
But you may not be aware that, in all of scripture, this word only occurs 8 times. All but once (Wisdom 16:6) it is in a sacrificial context. (Lk 22:19. I Cor 11:24, Heb 10:3 Lev 24:7, Num 10:10 & Ps 30 and 70)
In Lev 24:7, for example, 12 loaves of bread were offered to the LORD each Sabbath as a memorial portion or sacrifice. So this word has sacrificial overtones or connotations.
Lev. 24:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. 3 Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the LORD from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 4 The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD must be tended continually.
5 “Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah [a] for each loaf. 6 Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold before the LORD. 7 Along each row put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be an offering made to the LORD by fire. 8 This bread is to be set out before the LORD regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. 9 It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place, because it is a most holy part of their regular share of the offerings made to the LORD by fire.”
An interesting note is that these loaves were to be placed on a golden altar with a continuously burning lamp and eaten only by the priests “in the holy place because it is most holy of the sacrifices…” v.9
This corresponds to the Eucharistic Sacrifice given to us by Our Lord which is kept in the holy place with a continuously burning lamp, and eaten by the priesthood of all believers.