MEMORIAL OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES, BISHOP & DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Hebrews 10: 1-10
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’ (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Psalm 40: 2, 4ab, 7-8, 10-11
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
Then I said, “Here I am;"
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
Mark 3: 31-35
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
A young boy once told his mother that, for Christmas, he was going to give her his allowance to put toward a home improvement she had been talking about. The mother smiled, gave the child a hug, and explained that, while she was touched by his desire to do something to make her happy, she did not need or want to take his money. She explained that the adults would take care of the home matters but what would make her the happiest would be to see her son show some extra kindness to his siblings that week, and to maybe do his chores willingly the first time he was asked. The child agreed, but said that would actually be more of a challenge.
This is a similar sentiment to the one expressed by the first two readings today. The Lord does not need sacrifices from us. Just as the child’s allowance had come from the parents, and the parents’ tasks were not able to be accomplished by the child, everything we have comes from God, and God’s work is not accomplished by our merits. The one thing we can offer is a heart that loves Him and shows that love in our daily lives. And, while this seems like not much to ask, consistently living that is a challenge that requires our reliance on His grace. We can only really know and do God’s will if we stay close to Him.
Jesus’ relationship to the Father was defined by His knowing what was pleasing to the Father and doing it (John 8:29). He desires this close relationship with each of His children as well, and promises in the Gospel today that this relationship is possible for each of us who is willing to respond. Let us pray today for our hearts to be made more like the heart of Jesus, so that we may know God’s will and do it.