Saturday, December 20, 2014

Make it acceptable!

Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.
This exhortation is familiar enough to you all; the priest says it immediately after preparing the offerings on the Holy Altar.  Clearly, he refers to the gifts that are on the altar: the bread, and the wine mixed with water.  Clearly, there is the anticipation that they will be acceptable to the Father.  But how, why is that? 
The gifts we bring to the altar, ordinary as they are, become acceptable to the Father by the working of the Holy Spirit through the action of the Church, who is the body of Christ, when they become the Body and Blood of His Son, offered once and for all in the one and only acceptable sacrifice on the Cross. 
Our salvation is made present for us from our own humble offerings.  This marvel is even greater than at first it seems, as it includes not only the miracle on the altar, but also so many works of the faithful united in worship around it. 
My sacrifice and yours – thanks to the improved translation we received in 2011, we hear this in that exhortation of the priest.  This indicates that not only the central sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, the bread and wine that become Christ’s Body and Blood, is made acceptable and salvific; but also along with it the sacrifices offered by all of the faithful.  The monetary offering you place in the basket is neither dues nor fees, but your sacrifice to be offered too.
My sacrifice and yours – every small penance, charitable act, or suffering freely borne that we bind to that central act of offering by the priest, is bound to the one and only offering that obtains mercy and life.  This is the sacrifice that is at the heart of our worship of the living God, which manifests how the Mass is the unique and necessary action of the Church that is the assembly of the redeemed.
This past week we saw expressed more clearly than usual how our individual and collective charitable actions are united by our worship into more than the sum of their parts.  Not that the sum was negligible by any standards: 46 backpacks or duffel bags full of school supplies or personal hygiene items; 1,500 lbs. of non perishable food; toys, games, and gifts for 100 children; 50 pajamas; 30 pairs of socks; 40 sets of towels; 60 blankets; 50 pillows; 250 lbs. of cleaning supplies; 10 umbrellas; and $5,250.00 in gift cards, cash, and check donations.  As Daina Scheider said, who along with her family coordinated the effort: It was a good Sharing Tree year! 
But as many lives as you touched with your generosity, you touched even more souls with your sacrifice, because you made it one with Christ’s.
The gifts we give in this and every act of ecclesial charity take on eternal value because they accomplish far more than simply alleviating a worldly need or lack.   Community outreach and government programs strive to solve problems; Christian charity contributes to the salvation of the world.  Human efforts, however well intentioned or organized, fall short of their mark, cause unintended harm, or simply deteriorate into dust.  The work we undertake in union with Christ, united by our Eucharistic worship to His perfect and effective sacrifice, bears not only good fruit, but fruit that will last  -- unto eternity.   
Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.

Monsignor Smith

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