Renewed Life As An Acceptable Sacrifice
Are you are looking for a good job then attend nine novenas! Are you suffering from any sickness then offer two masses! Oh! You are searching for a life partner then go for a night vigil!
Do we remember God only when we need something? Do we use prayer as a method to manipulate God and give us what we want?
If I ask you the question, "What does God want from you during the season of Lent?" I know that you would answer: ”PRAYER AND SACRIFICE”. But what do “PRAYER AND SACRIFICE” mean to us? Do they help us to change and to grow? OR Are they just rituals that we blindly imitate without properly understanding their real meaning?
There was a famous Guru who used to preach to his disciples. Every day during the prayer service the Guru’s cat used to come and sit right in the middle. This used to distract everyone’s attention. So, the disciples started tying the cat every day before the prayer. This became their regular practice. One day the Guru died. Still they continued tying the cat before prayer. Then one day the cat also died. And guess what, they went and got a new cat and started tying it. People continued does this for many years and forgot the reason behind it. Thus tying the cat became part of their prayer. It became an important ritual.
Do we see the real meaning in our prayer and sacrifice? Do we make efforts to understand and live out our sacrifice?
On Holy Thursday, Catholics celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. The Church teaches us that the Mass is the best and highest sacrifice, because it is the sacrifice of Jesus. And we as followers of Jesus are an important part of this sacrifice.
Background regarding Christian sacrifice
In the OT time, the concept of sacrifice was to offer myself to God. People used to express this by giving what they had.
o The farmers would offer grains
o The shepherds would offer sheep
The offering was burnt, because they believed that with the smoke it went up to God. So through the sacrifice, they were OFFERING THEMSELVES to God. Then as time went on, the practice deteriorated and the focus was no longer on offering oneself. The focus shifted to the item that was being offered, how to offer it, and when to offer it, How much to offer , the quality and quantity of the offering and so on…
But in the NT, Jesus brought a change in all this. Rom 12:1 says “The only acceptable sacrifice is the sacrifice of our self”.
This is clearly seen in the life of Jesus. His values, his attitudes, his way of dealing with people, his way of handling his sufferings, and finally his death – all these show us the kind of life he lived.
What are its implications for us today?
Today, Jesus is inviting us to live as he lived.
One day before Good Friday we celebrate Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word ‘Mandatum’ which means “Command”. Jesus gave us a command, “Do this in memory of me”. We must ask ourselves, what is THIS referring to?
It is certainly not a ritual practice; but the meaning behind the mass. Otherwise, like the Pharisees, we too, would lose track of the original meaning of sacrifice. When Jesus said “Do this in memory of me” he said to each one of us “Live like I lived and offer your entire life as a living sacrifice”. Then the Eucharist will be truly meaningful.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper to show that the true meaning of Eucharistic sacrifice is ‘Love and Service’.
DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME
Some one who is suffering can offer that suffering as a sacrifice and will live as cheerfully as possible and spread joy in others’ lives – that is an acceptable sacrifice
Children, you can choose to be honest, study well and not copy during an exam where everyone else is copying – that person is making an offering of one’s life
One who cares for the sick and aged members of the family without grumbling, such a person’s life is genuine sacrifice that reaches up to God.
To take an active part in parish associations, SCC, PPC, Liturgy cell, Youth, etc. To do this whole heartedly is an acceptable sacrifice to God.
On this feast of the institution of the Eucharist, let us offer ourselves to God to love him and to love and serve each other.
Mk 12:33 “To love God with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”