Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice

Listen to mp3 file
7th in a series of short homilies on the Mass

We have seen, in this series of homilies, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal high priest, who offered himself as the one perfect sacrifice to the Father. And he instituted the Eucharist to make himself truly present to us in his sacrifice: the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross contained and offered in an unbloody manner in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass (Council of Trent, cited in CCC 1367). In this way, we are able to offer to the Father a gift, a sacrifice, that far surpasses any other sacrifice we could ever offer—a gift infinitely pleasing to him.

But that’s not all. It is not only Christ that we offer in the Mass; it is also ourselves, his faithful. The Second Vatican Council wrote:

The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, … by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, … should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator, they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 48)

Imagine the following scene with me. Somewhere there is a person—a man or a woman, a teenager or child—who is engaged in a very deep moment of prayer. Maybe they’re sitting outside somewhere, or in their room, or in a church; probably by themselves. And whatever has led up to this moment, they are now saying is: “Lord, I want to be completely yours. I want to live only for you; I give you every part of myself, my whole life, everything I have. From now on, I give all of this to you.”

I bet they’ll never forget that moment. Maybe that will be a true turning point in their life; or maybe they’ll try for a while but then slide back into old habits. Either way, they’ll always remember the moment they offered themselves completely to God as a living sacrifice.

That is what Christ intends for you! That you should offer yourself completely as a living sacrifice to the Father! That is why he transformed you in baptism: joining you to himself, immersing you in his death and resurrected life, cleansing you from your sins, configuring you to himself by an indelible character upon your soul, adopting you in him, the Only Begotten Son, as an adopted son or daughter of the Father.

What he has done—offering himself as sacrificial gift—he wants you to do also. This is your share in his office of priest—the Baptismal Priesthood—as you take up your cross and follow him (cf. Matt 16:24).

But he doesn’t want you to do it alone. When you offer yourself to the Father upon your cross, he wants you to be united with him upon his: face to face; pierced hand to pierced hand. That is why he instituted the Eucharist: so that you might offer yourself in union with him, as he completed his one perfect sacrifice of himself upon Calvary. And that is why he instituted the ministerial priesthood: so that, through the faithful exercise of the sacred power to make him present, you might fully exercise your baptismal priesthood.

And that is what you come to Mass to do. That is what true active participation in the Mass consists in: that profound, radical, sacrificial giving of yourself to the Father; united with other members of his Body around you, also giving themselves; united with Christ your head, the great high priest, offering himself. That is the Mass, the most sacred of all actions. Can you imagine?

St. Peter wrote in his first letter (2:4-5):

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Through him, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
for ever and ever.


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