Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14, 18
Write: Write down the key verse(s).
11 Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But this one [Jesus] offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; 13 now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.
Reflect: Reflect on the rule (principal or idea), and record what God speaks to your mind and heart.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving’.”
In the Old Testament, there were a number of types of temple sacrifices that happened. The one that is most important for our purpose is the sacrifice of praise – or thanksgiving. It was different than the sacrifice for sin. Psalm 116, which occurs a number of times in our cycle of readings for the Mass, says: “I will offer a sacrifice of praise and call on the name of the LORD.”
This sacrifice of praise, of thanksgiving, also required that those offering it eat part of it. We find that in the Book of Leviticus, chapter 7, and it was a sacrifice that included BREAD. Well, is that not what we do with the Eucharist? And, you do remember that “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving”!
Why am I making such a deal of this? Because verse 18, the last verse from our reading today, says: Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin. That is often used by non-Catholics to say we should not be calling the Eucharist the Sacrifice of the Mass, because it cannot be a sacrifice to forgive sins. Jesus did that once for all on the Cross.
Well, they have that right: The Sacrifice of the Mass we celebrate – here and at every Mass – is not repeating the bloody sacrifice of the Cross, THOUGH IT RECALLS THAT SACRIFICE. It is repeating the Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving for ALL THAT CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED ON THE CROSS! It is repeating the Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins that Jesus accomplished.
They are two different but related Sacrifices, drawing on all the experience of Sacrifice that God required of the Temple worship in Jerusalem. But this is now the true Sacrifice, the final Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, mystically conjoined with the ongoing Sacrifice of Praise that is the Eucharist.
Apply: Write out how you can apply the message beginning today.
And WE are granted the prophetic, priestly, and royal permission to participate in this grand offering of the Sacrifice of Praise that comes from the one who offered Himself as the Lamb of Sacrifice for sins and the Bread of Sacrifice of Praise – to the glory of God the Father, through the intercession of the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is what we are here to do.
This is also a great reminder of what our nation will be celebrating this Thursday. But Thanksgiving should not be just about family gatherings, and a day of overeating in preparation for Black Friday shopping. It should be about genuinely giving thanks to God for not abandoning us in our sin, but making us able to partake of His Amazing Grace and life.
With that in mind, I missed that we are already on Thanksgiving week with this weekend’s bulletin, so the bulletin does not reflect that we will have a 9AM Mass on Thanksgiving. I will be here for the 6:30, because that was published in the bulletin, just in case someone comes, but I want to encourage you to come at 9AM to celebrate the Great Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving for what Christ freely gave us through His Sacrifice on the Cross.
This is how the Letter to the Hebrews continues after our reading today: “19 Therefore, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary [heaven] 20 by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, 21 and since we have “a great priest over the house of God,”[Jesus] 22 let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.[Baptism] 23 Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. 24 We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. 25 We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Pray/Praise: Pray the verse; make it your own; talk with Jesus. As for his grace and help to walk out his word. Rest in his presence and receive his grace.
Heavenly Father, we are struggling in these days in the Church to live the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving. Many have already walked away. We come to you today with the cry from the depths of our hearts that you will renew the Church, and encourage her not just to be holy, but to lift up the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving and Praise through us, and before a world that does not understand what it means to give thanks to you who are the Almighty King.
Help me to be, for this community, a priest who will always understand the need for the Sacrifice of Praise, and will make each Mass an offering of praise to you, Almighty Father; through your Son who died for us; and in the power and blessing of your Holy Spirit.
Help us listen to the call of Your Spirit to worship You in Thanksgiving and Praise, and to offer You the Perfect Sacrifice of the Mass. Amen.