We continue our exploration of the First Eucharistic Prayer with the words that follow the Words of Institution. The priest addresses God the Father on behalf of the Church recounting the Sacrifice of the Mass as the celebration of not only the Passion of Jesus, but also His Resurrection and Ascension. The Mass transcends all time and space, as it is a divine action, the action of God the Son. Through the Church Jesus offers Himself to the Father as a victim Who is pure, holy, and spotless.
We then connect this timeless sacrifice of the Son with those sacrifices in the Old Testament that prefigured Jesus. First we remember Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, who offered God the best of his flocks and, though innocent, died at the hands of his envious brother, Cain (Genesis 4:4). Next we remember the Patriarch Abraham, who was willing to offer his only begotten son, Isaac, to maintain his covenant relationship with God (Genesis 22). Lastly, we remember Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18-20; cf. Psalm 110:4, and Hebrews 7:1-4), who brought bread and wine and blessed Abraham after his victory over his pagan enemies. We are pleading for God’s favor and making reference to the long history of God’s mercy toward us.
The priest then bows before the altar and asks God to take the Eucharist to heaven by the hands of the angels. Here again we unite the earthly and heavenly realms, recognizing that Jesus is the one Person who can unite them. The priest recalls the Cross as the bridge to heaven by making the sign of the cross over his body. We are putting into action what we pray for in the Our Father: “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”