by Father Bryan P. Babick, SL.L.
Before the priest invites all to “pray … that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,” all stand as a reminder that the sacrifice is offered both by priest and people alike. The new translation changes very little here as all say, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good and the good of all His holy Church.”
This response is ancient and very biblical. In the second Book of Samuel, a plague befalls Israel. The prophet Gad comes to the King suggesting that a sacrifice be offered to God in prayer that the plague will pass. David approaches Araunah to obtain what is needed for the sacrifice, and he says, “May the Lord, your God, accept the sacrifice at your hands.”
We call the Mass a “sacrifice” because it is the re-presentation of Christ’s perfect self sacrifice on the Cross. Bread and wine are sacrificed at Jesus’ instruction since He said that these elements would re-present His Body and Blood sacrificed on Good Friday.
This belief caused Christians to regard the Mass as a sacrifice in that it perpetuates the sacrifice of Christ, but in un-bloody way. We are not re- crucifying Christ, but participating in the original offering of Christ as it is made present anew. The most ancient understanding of a “memory” of God’s saving work was as a re-presentation of the saving event to which we are invited again and again in all times.
The words, “for the praise and glory of His name” come from Psalm 50 where God says that “those who offer praise as a sacrifice glorify me.” There is no better way to offer praise to, and declare God’s glory than by continuing Christ’s sacrifice. We give praise and glory to God and to the Name of Jesus since it is by His death and Resurrection that we make peace with God for all of humanity. This confirms the witness of the Book of Revelation, wherein the numberless multitude in heaven declare, “salvation comes from our God and from the Lamb; praise and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power and might be to our God forever and ever!”
Saint Paul describes Christ’s sacrifice perfectly in Romans 8:28 by writing, “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according His purpose.” We show our love for God in offering exactly what His Son offered to Him out of love and this is indeed for our good and the good of all who are called according to His purpose, the holy Church. Jesus certainly wouldn’t have done this if it were not for His love of God and all of us.
The Church may reflect the sins of its members outwardly, but as a community of believers founded by and seeking to live their lives in Christ, it is inwardly a holy people. Just as God ended the plague of Israel because of the sacrifice of David, we pray that, through the sacrifice of Christ, perpetuated by the Church, God will pardon the plague of our sins. Indeed may the Lord accept my sacrifice and yours, for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good and the good of all His holy Church!