Three things happen during the Offertory: The money is collected, we bring up bread and wine, and we sit quietly. These three things express one idea: be Generous. All that we have comes from God; He has been so generous to us. We take ordinary things and give them back to God and they become Jesus Christ. In the same way the “stuff” of our lives, when offered to God, becomes something holy. Give God your stuff. (4 Dec 2012)
The Scriptures teach us that this is God’s world. He made the whole thing. Our Creed says He is the maker of “All things visible and invisible.” And He gave it all to us. God has been so generous. He invites us to respond by being generous too. If God made everything and owns everything, that means that even the money in your pockets, the clothes on your back, the car in your garage, the toys in your closet, all belong to God. He has been so, so generous to us. Because God has been generous, we want to be generous too. So at this part in the Mass, God invites us to give a little back. This part is called the Offertory, from the word Offering. We prepare our offering for God. There are three ways that we prepare our offering for God:
- We put money in the collection basket.
- We bring up bread and wine and the money.
- We sit quietly or sing a song.
Let’s look at what each one means. First of all, I want to invite all the children to come forward.
What does it mean to put money in the basket?
It means that we are being generous, just like God is being generous to us. Being generous is a good habit. People say that everyone should practice giving away 10% and saving 10% of their money. That means if you make a dollar, how much should you give away? Ten cents.
How about ten dollars? One dollar.
How about a thousand dollars?
God wants all of us. Remember I told you that before. During the Liturgy of the Word God asks for our Minds – he wants us to think like He thinks. During the Offertory God asks for our stuff. He wants us to give like He gives.
This is an important lesson at Christmas time. We are all excited about what we can get. We should be excited about what we can give. This is a time for giving, not getting. Have you thought of giving gifts to people that won’t be giving them back to you? Poor people, even people you hate? That’s what God does all the time.
What about the bread and wine?
Someone made the bread and wine. Families used to make them at home. Each family would have a turn to provide the bread and wine that turned into Jesus. Sometimes they would also bring forward gifts to be offered to the poor – food, clothing, money – to help those that didn’t have anything. Not everybody makes good bread and wine. So later people would give a little offering. We call this offering a stipend. People can give $10 to the parish and ask for the Mass to be offered for a special loved one.
The bread and wine are ordinary things, but when we give them to God and put them on the altar, God breathes on them and they become Jesus. Simple things, given and blessed, become amazing things.
What about the quiet time?
It takes a while to collect all the money and bring up the bread and wine. That’s when lots of people like to go to the bathroom. But we are supposed to be doing something else. God doesn’t just want our money and our food. He wants everything. What else do you have to offer Him?
We can give him everything!
- Our happy times, and our sad ones.
- The good things that happened last week and the bad things.
- The things we are looking forward to, like Christmas, and the things we are afraid of.
God wants all of us. Why does God want all of us? Because He wants us to be happy. When we keep things to ourselves, they don’t turn out so well. We become greedy and selfish. When we give things away, amazing stuff happens. God takes our gifts, no matter what they are, and blesses them and they become amazing things. Just like ordinary bread and wine become Jesus, so our ordinary joys and struggles hide the presence of God. God wants all of us, but during the offertory he asks for our stuff. The more we give, the more he blesses us. So I want to send you back to your pews now. The ushers will take up the collection, the family will bring up the bread and wine, and we will sing a song or sit quietly. Use that quiet time to prepare your offering. What do you want to put on the altar? What do you need blessed and broken? The more we give, the more God will give back to us.