Readings for June 3, 2018
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Looking at my breakfast plate of eggs and bacon, I can see that the chicken made a commitment, but the pig made a sacrifice. Looking at what I myself bring to the table in my relationship with God, I can see that I have made commitments, but most often I lack a full sacrifice. My Lenten “sacrifice,” for example, was not altogether sacrificial. I blogged about giving up coffee. I did not, however, give up caffeine. I made a commitment to change my routine and to try to focus on something beyond my own needs and human desires, but it seems a bit overstated to say that not drinking coffee for six weeks was much of a sacrifice.
God is teaching a lesson about sacrifice in this week’s readings. In Exodus, Moses makes an animal sacrifice to consecrate the tribes of Israel to the new covenant. The people had affirmed their commitment to the law, saying, ”All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” It was a special and holy time for the people of Israel, who had been recently led from captivity as they watched the Lord fight and win their battles against a ruthless leader and his powerful army. They were ready to commit to the Lord, ready to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice. Then Moses ascends the mountain at God’s request and spends some time listening and taking notes.
When Moses does not immediately return, the committed, consecrated men of Israel decided that Moses was not coming back anytime soon so they began to make and worship an idol. Just eight chapters after the sprinkling of the blood, they faltered in their commitment to the Lord. So it took maybe 30 days for a saved nation to break their covenant with the One who saved them.
It seems an easily and often repeated cycle even today. Each time I attend Mass, I make a commitment to the Lord with his sacrifice of body and blood. After making this commitment and being filled with the Lord’s peace and love, I get into my car where my impatience attempting to leave may cause me to decry being “surrounded by idiots!” At that point, my wife wisely and firmly reminds me, “Don’t blow it in the parking lot!” The Israelites blew it in the parking lot. And far too often I do too.
So the Israelites taught me what not to do, what am I supposed to do? Jesus uses the feast of Passover to teach about sacrifice. With the words, “This is my body … This is my blood,” Jesus goes beyond mere commitment and obedience to his Father and explains how he will now become the sacrifice, offering his own blood “which will be shed for many.” Jesus, God’s own Son, offers himself, “not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood.” By doing so, those who believe in him “may receive the promised eternal inheritance.”
That. What he said. I’m supposed to do that.
I am called to sacrifice myself, give my body and blood for many. Does this mean martyrdom? Probably not. But it does mean God wants me to be all-in, to bring home the bacon. It does mean I am called to sacrifice the life I would live for myself, and instead live every day for God as a vessel of His love to the world. And it does mean I must live noticing and caring for and helping those I meet on this journey, and standing for those who cannot. God wants my love and commitment because, like me, He appreciates eggs, but He also wants my full sacrifice, because nothing is better than bacon. So if I really want God to smile when I come home to Him in heaven, I’d better do what I can to give my life for Him, just as he has done for me.
My Lord God, I pray that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. I pray that, rooted and grounded in love, I may have the strength to comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth of Your love through Christ. And I pray to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, so that through his sacrifice I may be filled with all the fullness of God.
-Based on Ephesians 3:17-19