The talk I’d like to be able to give to my parish:
Over the past several weeks, we’ve heard some inspiring stories from some wonderful people who serve our parish in a variety of ways. These stories have celebrated the goodness of God and challenged us to give back to Him from the blessings with which He has gifted us.
But some of us are living a different sort of life. We’re broke. Our health is poor. We are weighed down with grief and bereavement, and sometimes with estrangements. In a variety of ways we are just barely hanging on for dear life. We’d like to give something to God, but all we can see in ourselves is emptiness, pain, and lack.
My dear friends, when this is all you can see, then this is what you give. Catholics have a wonderful saying: “Offer it up.” We are a people who believe that God is not limited by our limitations. We are a people who base our lives on the hope of a Divine Economy which takes our sufferings and transforms them into something redemptive. And out of our brokenness, God will give us something we can give back to Him.
Many years ago, I knew a precious woman who was so crippled with arthritis that, when her youngest child was born, she was unable to hold him. But this same woman had a rich and powerful prayer life, and she was an effectual intercessor. Your sufferings may prevent you from teaching CCD, your poverty may prevent your contributing to the offering basket as you would like — but God will open to you ways of serving Him: in prayer. In counseling and comforting. In encouraging. All our gifts are needed to fulfill the purpose of the Body of Christ. Even the ones you don’t know you possess.
So begin where you are. “Lord, I am empty, so far as I can see. But please take my life and use it for Your Glory. I make an offering — an oblation! — of my life to You.”