A HOMILY FOR THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “B” – 8/12/18 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Today we continue St. John’s Bread of Life series from chapter 6, and as we do so, I want to continue to take a look at the Mass, and talk a little bit about our prayer together as Catholic. This week I’d like to talk about the Offertory, or the Presentation of the Gifts. The Offertory comes immediately following the Universal prayers, and the ending of the Liturgy of the Word. Some say that it takes between the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of Eucharist. In truth, the Offertory, or Presentation of the Gifts, is the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. At the Offertory, our gifts are brought up to the sanctuary, to the Altar, by a family, or group of individuals, or by a couple, and presented to be used for the Mass. We usually sing a song or hymn while the gifts are being presented and prepared. The gifts consists of the unleavened bread, or hosts, in a ciborium, and the grape wine in a decanter. The water, which gets blessed, and is mingled into the wine, and that is also used to wash the priest’s hands, is not brought up in the Offertory. Sometimes, and in some places, the collection is also brought up and presented during the Mass.
Now, my entire life, I have heard about places around the world, where, when they bring the gifts up at the Offertory, they bring bags of grains, and fresh produce, and live chickens. I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been to Mass at a lot a places around the world, and I’ve never seen that. Could you see Deacon Steve’s face, if someone brought a live chicken down the aisle? St. Hippolytus, writing in third century Rome, did say that grapes, figs, apples, and even lilies, anything that could be used to support the Christian community, were brought in procession to the Altar during Mass. Today, the Offertory is a lot neater, and a whole lot less messy! We take a collection. We have an envelope with our name and number on it. We write a check. We put in some cash. We use EFT, Electronic Funds Transfer. We do our part to support the Church and its mission. And we are going to have our Offertory procession, our presentation of the gifts, in just a few minutes.
And yet, in actuality, the Presentation of the Gifts or Offertory is meant to symbolize so much more than just the bread and wine needed for Mass, and the money needed to run the Parish. The Offertory symbolizes our offering of our lives to God. It is a reminder that we belong to Him! And at the Mass, just as God gives Himself to us, so too do we offer whole selves to Him!
The Offertory reminds us that all that we have, and all that we are, as the old song goes, belongs to God. I wonder, how many of us really believe that? And, how many of us really live that way every day?
My brothers and sisters, we are the offering that God desires! He wants us! The bread and wine are great. They are what we need to have Mass. The collection, the envelopes, that’s pretty important also. We do have to keep paying the bills. But the most important thing that God wants is US! You and I! He wants our hearts, He wants our lives, and He wants our love! That’s really what we present at the Offertory or Preparation of the Gifts! A good question to ask today, as we continue to reflect on the Mass and the Eucharist, how are YOU offering yourself to God? How are you willing to serve Him? How are you doing at helping others and making this world a better place? How are you doing at loving Him in return for the incredible love that He has shown us?
You know, anybody can write a check! Well, it’s always nice to have the money in your account to cover the check that you write. And anybody can carry the bread and wine down front, to be used for the Mass. But it seems like it takes a real person of Faith to truly give themselves to God. He wants us, my friends. He wants us one hundred percent!
St. Augustine called the Offertory of the Mass an “admirable exchange”, for we bring God our gifts, our offering, and our lives, and God gives us back Jesus Christ. What a deal!
The Mass is truly an amazing thing. This Bread of Life that God gives us every time we come to Mass, is the peace that we need to make our way through this world. The Offertory reminds that we cannot be afraid to give ourselves to Him, because God in turn is going to give Himself back to us. We need this God in our lives. He is our Life!
My brothers and sisters, let us grow in that knowledge every day. God is saving us even when we don’t realize it. Let us offer ourselves to Him this day, and let us receive from Him, the nourishment that we need to make it home to Heaven!
+ God bless us and give us His peace, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!