Sacrifice: To Make Holy
Tuesday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time
What comes to our mind when we hear the word ‘sacrifice’? Many of us would think about the idea of giving up something or someone, others would associate it with the feeling of suffering because of the act of offering, or it could be that which is lost and given up, or even something related to worship and prayer. This is something that we can associate especially with the Season of Lent which will begin tomorrow. The word ‘sacrifice’ comes from two Latin words (and our Aspirants know this well as they are studying the Latin language): ‘sacer, sacris’ and ‘facio, facere.’ ‘Sacer’ means holy or sacred. ‘Facere’ means to make or to do. When these two words are put together, they can mean ‘to make holy or sacred.’ Thus the word ‘sacrifice’ is related most of the time to worship and prayer since there is the word ‘holy’ attached to it. Sacrifice then is to make holy that which we do, we offer, and give up. Who makes them holy? It is God, the One who accepts our offering.
In the Gospel, after Peter asks Jesus about how he and the other disciples will benefit from their giving up everything to follow Him, Jesus promises to bless them and multiply what they have given up by giving them more in this life, ‘they will receive a hundred times more in this present age.’ Though the disciples will be blessed because of their following the Lord, they will also face persecutions. Yet the thought of having offered and given up everything to follow Jesus is a suffering more than the persecutions that they will face. In being a disciple of the Lord, one has to surrender, give up those that are hindrances in our following Him, in living the commandments, and in doing acts of charity. There is always an inner struggle to focus on oneself more than on God and our brothers and sisters. This act can become an offering to God and we allow Him to make our sufferings and daily struggles to be sanctified and made holy. St. John Bosco’s invitation to young people in relation to being holy is simple and direct, “Do your ordinary duties extraordinarily well.” In doing one’s daily duties, there is a continuous battle to do what we are supposed to do over what we would like to do, to be faithful and loyal to Jesus than to succumb to sin. For Don Bosco, we encounter the Lord in the daily life, in what we do, in the persons we encounter, in the events that happen during each day, that is why we give our best, we do them extraordinarily well.
Brothers and sisters, sacrifice is to allow God to make holy what we offer, what we give up, what we surrender. In every Eucharist, we witness how the Lord sanctifies what we bring before the altar: the bread and wine which we offer from the work of human hands will become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we continue our celebration today, let us pause for a while and think about those which we surrender and give up because of our following the Lord Jesus. As the priest later on during the Consecration raises the bread and wine, let us unite our sacrifices so that the Lord will make them holy and sanctify them.
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