Catholic Parish of Warkworth and Puhoi

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Be God's sacrifice and his priest

"I appeal to you by the mercy of God." Paul makes a request, or rather God makes it through Paul, because he wants to be loved rather than feared. God makes a request, because he does not want to be so much the Lord as a father. God makes a request in his mercy, rather than punish in his severity.

Listen to what the Lord asks: "You see in me your body, your limbs, your organs, your bones, your blood." If you are afraid of what belongs to God, why do you not love what is your own? If you run away from your Lord, why do you not run back to your kinsman?

Perhaps you are ashamed because of the greatness of the passion which you inflicted on me. Do not be afraid. This cross is not mine; it is the sting of death. These nails do not pierce me with pain; they pierce me more deeply with love of you. These wounds do not draw groans from me; rather they draw you into my heart. The stretching-out of my body makes room for you in my heart; it does not increase my pain. My blood is not lost to me; it is paid in advance for your ransom.

"Come then, come back to me, and come to know me as father; for see, I return good for evil, love for injuries, and for deep wounds a deeper love." But let us listen now to the appeal Saint Paul makes to us: "I appeal to you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice." By this request the apostle has raised all mankind to the level of priests: "to present your bodies as a living sacrifice".

How unique is the duty of the Christian priesthood! For there a man is himself sacrifice as well as priest; there a man does not look for something outside himself to offer to God; there a man brings with himself and in himself and for himself a sacrifice to God; there the victim is not consumed and the priest never completes his task; there the victim is slain but lives, the sacrificing priest cannot complete the stroke.

A wonderful sacrifice! A body is offered without a body, blood without blood. "I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice." My brothers and sisters, this sacrifice follows the pattern of Christ, who by his life sacrificed his body for the life of the world; he truly made his body a living sacrifice because, though slain, he lives. So through this victim death is rendered powerless, the sacrifice endures; the victim lives, death is punished. So it is that martyrs are born in death, make a beginning in their end, live as they die. They were thought to be extinguished on earth; yet they shine in heaven.

"I appeal to you, brethren, by the mercy of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, that is holy." These words echo the song of the prophet: "Sacrifice and offering you did not want, but you prepared a body for me".

Since you are a human being, he God's sacrifice and his priest. Do not throw away the privilege granted to you by divine authority. Put on the vestment of holiness; buckle on the belt of chastity. Let Christ be the veil for your head; let his cross be always on your forehead to protect it. Place on your breast the sacrament of divine knowledge. Keep ever burning the sweet-smelling incense of prayer. Take in your hand the sword of the Spirit. Set up the altar of your. heart. And so without fear bring your body to God as his victim.

God seeks your faith, not your death. He thirsts for your prayer, not your blood. He is appeased by your love, not your death.


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