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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Experiencing the Mass: Presentation of the Gifts (Part 2)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

View readings for today:

Dear Readers: Since the Church is presently engaged in a Eucharistic Revival, we thought it would be helpful to post excerpts from his booklet called Experiencing the Mass, for the next few weeks. (This is not a sales pitch. However, the booklet is available for order on this website for $5 per copy if you would like have a copy.)

By putting ourselves on the altar in the Presentation of Gifts we commit ourselves to the “new evangelization”—to embodying the Good News ever more visibly in our own lives and through our lifestyle proclaiming it to others. But what we need to embody is not just good human virtue, but the divine life of God in us; the presence of the risen, living Jesus in us; a way of acting and living that can only be explained by the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community... radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News....

All Christians are called to this witness, and in this way they can be real evangelizers. (Evangelization in the Modern World, no. 21).

The key phrase here is “stir up irresistible questions.” To bear witness, to be authentically Christian, our lifestyle has to raise eyebrows. If it can be understood without specific reference to the values taught by Jesus Christ, it is not specifically Christian and does not bear witness to the Gospel.

For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new: "Now I am making the whole of creation new." But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by Baptism and by lives lived according to the Gospel. (Evangelization in the Modern World, no. 18).

To put ourselves on the altar with the bread and wine during the Presentation of Gifts is to commit ourselves—consciously, freely, deliberately, as adults—to the mission of bearing witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is simply to reaffirm and accept our baptismal consecration as prophets.

Prophets are those who “profess” the faith, not in words only, but through a lifestyle that does not make sense without it. This is our first acceptance of, our first response to, the mission of Jesus, which is the mission of the Church.

We become adults, mature Christians in the Church, on the day we embrace the Church’s mission as our own. Until then, St. Paul says we are not “spiritual people, but rather... people of the flesh... infants in Christ” to be fed “with milk, not solid food,” because we are “not ready for solid food.” As long as we are in the Church, or participating in Eucharist, just for “what we get out of it,” we are still children. Children are not expected to work. They are committed only to growing and developing so they will be able to work and contribute something to the human race when they grow up. Paul’s teaching is that we are not “grown-up” Christians until we are committed to “building up the Church.” He says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; but when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” That is what the Presentation of Gifts invites us to do—in every Mass: to “build up the Church,” and through the Church the world.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.... So since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.... When you come together... let all things be done for building up.

This is an important step in letting Christ grow to “full stature” in us:

The gifts he gave were... to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

All the gifts we have received from God, all we return to him by placing ourselves on the altar in the Presentation of Gifts, are gifts given to us for “building up the Church.” This is what we ask for in the Prayer over the Gifts:

Lord, accept our sacrifice as a holy exchange of gifts. By offering what you have given us, may we receive the gift of yourself.[1]

[1]1Corinthians 3:1-2 and Paul’s “hymn to maturity”: chapters 12 through 14; Ephesians 4:11-13; cf. Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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