As a teacher for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I love teaching students about the gesture of Epiclesis (when the priest asks the Holy Spirit to come down upon the bread and wine to transform them into the Body and Blood of Christ). It is a time to think about how the God who created us places himself in service to our priests and with their words comes to make holy what we offer to God. We talk about how dew covers everything and that is what the Holy Spirit is doing, he is covering the altar to take the bread and wine and transforming them into Jesus.
But dew covers EVERYTHING. The Holy Spirit isn’t limited to covering the altar. The Holy Spirit is covering all of our offerings. In every single Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer we are called to offer our very selves. That means that the Holy Spirit is at work in each and every one of us. The offering at Mass isn’t limited to the bread and wine. We offer ourselves. We offer our joys and our sorrows. We offer our struggles and our hardened hearts to be transformed by love.
Today’s reading challenges us to think about what we are actually offering. How much of ourselves do we offer at the Eucharist? It is a time to reflect on the Eucharistic prayer, to reflect on our own attention or inattention at Mass. How much of the Mass do we carry with us when we leave?
The introductory words of the Eucharistic prayer invite us to lift up our hearts. In the ancient world, the heart is considered the center of our desires, affections, and our will. When we lift up our hearts, we are offering them to God. We are giving God those most intimate parts of ourselves. We turn all our desire and affection to God. Listen closely to the Preface. It gives us the reason for our celebration and contemplates the mysteries of salvation, the incarnation of God himself in the person of Jesus Christ. In the “Holy, Holy,” we join with all of heaven and earth to give praise to God. During the “Memorial” and “Offering” sections, we remember in a deep way that we, the Church, are Christ’s body given to the world. When we remember that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, we are also giving ourselves over to be God’s love in the world today, to make God’s kingdom present on earth. We become a sacrifice of love.
Here our reflection turns personal. If we become a sacrifice of love in the Eucharist, what exactly do we offer? Do we give like the widow offering from the core of our being, giving all that we have? Do we give like the wealthy who offer from their surplus?
All unity, the unity of the Body of Christ, comes from God who is love. It is the Son of God, present in the here and now of the Eucharist, who teaches us how to love through his actions. May we each respond like the widow, giving from our poverty and offering our full livelihood.
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