Grace to you!
Many times, people ask how could religious worship become personal to the worshiper? How do we translate the liturgical life for a more “intentional” impact in our life and activities outside of the Church? How do we keep a consistency of tone from the cathedrals to the living room, the workplace and the recreational centers?
Sirach offers some ideas. First is seeing almsgiving as part of worship. “He who returns a kindness offers fine flour, and he who gives alms sacrifices a thank offering” (Sirach 35:2). In the same way God accepts gifts presented to the altar, He accepts the gifts offered to “any of these little ones of mine.” Remember the famous Jesus’ quote: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).
Second is seeing and doing God’s will, keeping the law of God and living righteously outside of the place we typically call sacred (like the church or the chapel) as part of the pleasant offering we make to God. Righteous and virtuous acts are pleasant offerings to the Lord. They are blessings, atonement for us too. “To keep from wickedness is pleasing to the Lord, and to forsake unrighteousness is atonement” (Sirach 35:3).
Third, offerings to the Lord at the church and other church-related offerings from the blessings we have received, are themselves a way of personal gratitude to the giver of the gifts. See how Scripture describes it: “Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed, for all these things are to be done because of the commandment. The offering of a righteous man anoints the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High. The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten” (Sirach 35:4-7).
Another way to look at it is the famous saying that we get from the Mass as we give something to the Mass. God’s graces at worship overflow to the heart who comes to the Lord, not simply as an obligation, but as a mutual offering of love, freely given in return for Divine Love. It’s a gracious heart of worship that meets the Gracious Heart of Salvation—Christ.
Hence, the best offering ever is the gift of oneself, offering one’s body and soul, will and intellect to God for His leading. Such a gift the Lord adorns with the ornament of sanctity and grace. Such a life is justified and granted salvation.
A line from St. Paul is apt to conclude this reflection: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.