Offering Gifts to the Lord…Like Yourself

bread and wine2What’s your favorite part of the Mass?  For some Catholics, it’s the “Gloria,” that wonderful and ancient prayer of praise to God that we sing together on Sundays.  Others love hearing the readings from Scripture proclaimed.  My best friend loves it when we all stand our profess our beliefs.  The Nicene Creed is a beautiful testimony to our two-thousand-year-old faith and never fails to remind us all of the blessings God gives to us and His Church.  Personally, I love the moments when the altar is being prepared for the Eucharist and the offertory is being collected.  Crazy, right?  While lots of people might see this time as a kind of “housekeeping,” for me it’s a lovely and meaningful moment of reflection.  The ushers are taking up the collection and the servers are placing the linens and chalices on the altar.  Sitting in my pew, I hear a few people singing along with the choir, a few others scrambling to find their offertory envelopes or spare change and a couple of folks are whispering about where to go for brunch.  What they might be missing is the meaning of  “offering.”  For as we give our gifts of bread, wine, and treasure to God, we are also offering Him our lives.
 
We often refer to Mass as a celebration and this is certainly true.  We celebrate the wonder and majesty of God and His love for us.  We celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead and His victory over sin which was won on our behalf.  We celebrate our place in the family of God.  And we celebrate God’s life-giving Eucharist which nourishes us and infuses us with His grace.  But the Mass is also a sacrifice.  It is a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in which we offer the Son to the Father.  Through the priest, Christ is offered to God as the perfect, complete, and same sacrifice as Jesus’ sacrifice.  When He gave Himself in love for our sins, He gave everything He had to the Father:  His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity.  Jesus held nothing back.  And that’s what He asks of us.
 
While the priest prepares the gifts, we should be preparing our hearts, our minds, and our spirits for our own offering to the Lord.  These precious moments in the Mass are an opportunity for each of us to place ourselves on the altar as well.  If the bread and the wine are to be transformed into Christ, perhaps if we place ourselves on the altar, God will accomplish a miracle in us, too.  How can we pass up this opportunity at every Mass?  My challenge to each of you is to be aware of the offertory at your next Mass.  Really reflect on what is happening and your part in the mystery of the Eucharistic liturgy.  Ask yourself what you are placing on the altar of God and maybe more importantly, what are you holding back?
 
Often we find it easy to give our blessings back to the Lord.  The good things God has given to us are easy to offer Him in gratitude.  We can all say “thank You” for our health, our family, and our friends, our homes and our jobs—all the goodness of life comes pretty easily to our minds.  But that’s not enough for God.  Our God is a “jealous” God (Exodus 20:5) and wants all of us, not just our blessings.  Our offering to Him is incomplete if we don’t lay everything on His altar.  He wants our worries and failures, our faults and our sins and our shortcomings, too.  While we’re at it, don’t forget all your hopes and dreams, your talents, your gifts, and your plans.  God wants every minute of every day.  Go ahead and make an offering of  your life to Him.  He wants everything you are so He can transform you into everything you were created to be.  Whatever you can’t or won’t share with God is exactly what is holding you back in your journey with Christ.  Whatever you keep for yourself is like an anchor that weighs down your spiritual growth.  So be generous with God as He is generous with you.  As we give our gifts to God next Sunday, may your gift to Him be just what Jesus wants most:  all of you.
 
“With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by You , O Lord, and may our sacrifice in Your sight this day be pleasing to You, Lord God.”    
                                            —The Liturgy of the Eucharist

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