We continue with the talks on the Mass.
Having completed the first part of the Mass, we are anxious to forge ahead and demonstrate to our God how grateful we are for what our God has done for us.
The greatest way to thank someone for gifts received is to reciprocate with something which the giver of the gift has not got and very much desires.
We were brought up to believe that God has everything. But that is not true.
God is our Father and our Mother. What does a parent desire most in life? Above all else a parent desires the gratitude, respect, appreciation and if possible, the love of their children.
This is something which the parent has not yet got or has not yet received the fulness of. It is something which the parent cannot get a surfeit of. It is something which makes up for, which makes worth while, all the sacrifices, heartache and worry of child rearing. It brings fulfilment and joy to the parent.
God is my parent. My God can never get a surfeit of my gratitude, respect and love. It is the only thing my God desires from me and has not yet got or has not yet got a fulness of.
Now we move on to the second part of the mass – the bringing of the gifts.
What are these gifts? What is actually and visibly brought to the altar is bread and wine.
These are symbols. Bread and wine are food and drink. Food and drink are the two absolute necessities for life and wellbeing. By offering our God these things I are saying to God ‘I offer you my very life and being as a symbol of my gratitude for what you have done for me. From now on my life will be lived through, with and in Christ, in gratitude for your gifts to me – existence, life, resurrection from death and sharing in your eternal life,’ etc.
The offertory procession is a time of decision. Deciding for Christ. Breaking from a way of life that separates me from Christ. Deciding to try and abandon my hostilities, my envies, my jealousies, my greed, my selfishness and self – absorption. Deciding, to try to be forgiving, to be tolerant, generous and kind.
Mentally, I place these decisions for Christ in the hands of the bearers of the bread and wine, to be placed on the altar with the bread and wine, as an expression of my gratitude to my God. This, of course, is done in symbols. Symbols which I understand and which are meaningful to me.
In short, what I am doing and saying during the offertory is placing myself on the altar, with the bread and wine, as an offering to my God, for God to do with as God wishes. This is the sign or symbol of my gratitude. This is my way of saying thank you to my God and my Creator.
So the offertory procession is not for looking at the people who bring the gifts or seeing what they are wearing. The offertory procession is the time when I offer to my God something of myself as a sign of my gratitude.
The presider – the president – the priest, then takes the bread and wine, and raising them up offers them to our God as gifts brought by His family, here present, in gratitude for God’s goodness.
Then the priest says ‘Prey, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.’ And all of you, God’s family here present, respond with one voice; ‘May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy church.’
Our sacrifice, our gifts, are always acceptable to our God as long as they are sincere and authentic and not just empty promises.