Offerings for God’s glory

By | October 17, 2012

Sunday’s first reading is from the Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. The “song” held a place of prime importance in the earliest church because it helped the church understand why the Messiah had to suffer and die.

The church came to understand that the crucifixion was “for us and for our salvation.” The community of disciples came to understand after the resurrection that the crucifixion was an offering for sin. Jesus knew this passage well before his death and it no doubt brought comfort as the horrific events of his crucifixion began to unfold before him. He knew that the offering of his life would win back the lost people of God for the Father. “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.” We are those descendants foretold in Isaiah. Christ understood that his mission was to offer his life as a ransom for sin to save us all.

This path of offering oneself to God for the sake of others is extended to us who follow Jesus. Throughout his ministry he invited those who would be his disciples to “take up your cross and follow me.” He says the same to us now. The Christian is invited to use the challenging circumstances and situations of life as the “stuff” of our offerings. It may be the times when we are called upon to voice the truth or to give a public witness to faith. The offering may be our ongoing fidelity to vows or our patience in suffering. It may be the cleansing of a relationship from sin or perhaps the humility of offering something known only to God. It may be the sharing in the joy of another. The blessing is that when we unite these offerings, especially the difficult ones, to the perfect offering of the Son, they take on a supernatural power through their union with the Lord’s cross and resurrection and can advance the redemption of the world.

The Letter to the Hebrews makes clear that God the Son, Jesus, is in full solidarity with us in these offerings. God has become fully human in Jesus and thus can fully empathize with us in the difficulty of these offerings. Hebrews writes that he has “similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” Christ wants to help us make these offerings. With Christ our offerings have incredible value. The Gospel makes clear that the seats to his right and to his left are not for the faint of heart. They are granted to those who have shared a bit in the sacrificial cost of the love that heals the world. Yet this cost, once paid, rewards the giver with the discovery of their true self and a place in the kingdom of God.

Questions for Reflection

1. What are my difficult offerings?

2. What are my hidden offerings?

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Bernard Parish and St. Philip the Apostle Parish, Green Bay.

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