Ever since my baptism as an infant, my life was never in shortage of Mass attendance, but to me they were just weekly routines, and I never felt any connection to God during Mass. The only times I participated during Mass were in singing. It is a real shame that in all those years, most of my time in Mass were wasted in daydreaming.
It was not until I began serving as a lector during Mass two years ago, and as a Eucharist minister three years ago, that I finally began to seriously follow the Mass step by step with heart:
to repent my sins sincerely during the Penitential Rite, to sing praises joyfully to God during Gloria, to listen intently for his Word during the Liturgy of the Word, to experience the presence of Holy Spirit when the bread and wine were becoming the body and blood of Christ, to converse with Jesus intimately after receiving him, … Through this participation, I have come to know how real and close God is, and have experienced many encounters with him. I became more and more aware of God’s presence in my life, especially during the Mass when his children come together to worship him. However, I have never realized the significance and importance of the Gift Offering until recently, when my family was chosen to bring up the Gifts to the altar.
About a year ago, Arthur, the person in-charge of Gift Offering at our church, arranged for our family to offer the Gifts during a Sunday Mass. Due to some unforeseen event, another family ended up taking our place and we lost our opportunity. It was not until a couple of weeks ago when I suddenly remembered that event, and casually asked Arthur when we might have another opportunity. He replied that because of some procedural changes, the regional leaders will be making the arrangements instead of him, (he later added that the CCD teachers will make the arrangements during family Mass), and he apologized for not being able to help us. I thought that was the end of that, and did not pursue it any further.
On a Saturday a few days later, my son Brandon’s CCD teacher, Judith, called to invite our family to offer the Gifts during family Mass on the following day. I was speechless for it came as a total surprise! I was thinking that God had heard our request and made this arrangement possible in such a short time. Judith then apologized for her lateness, and explained that she had intended to invite us on the previous Sunday, but had forgotten when she became too busy. I was even more astonished after hearing that, and was totally lost for words. That was when I came to understand that God had prepared this opportunity for us even before we had asked for it, also that if Judith have had remembered to invite us on the previous Sunday, I would not have realized it to be God’s arrangement, and might not be as grateful and amazed by Him. Just as the Scripture says, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are God’s ways above my ways and his thoughts above my thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) Although I still didn’t understand why she would invite our family when we were in different regional groups, but I did not dare to ask for fearing this opportunity might slip away as it did last time. After recovering from the surprise, I cheerfully and quickly accepted her invitation. Judith must have thought that I was either very rude or just extremely retarded with words.
When I walked passed Arthur as I entered the church that Sunday, I quickly said to him that my family was selected to offer the Gifts that day. He was also very surprised, and I cheerfully told him “God can do what man cannot.” All he could say was “God loves you very much!” Amen! His arrangement for us was truly a gift from heaven. As my family walked down the aisle to offer the Gifts that day, in my heart, I also offered up our lives, our family, and our ministry for Jesus Christ to God, so he can be the Lord in everything in our lives. I know God did not want me to just offer the Gifts for the community, he also wanted me to offer my whole self to him, just as he asked Abraham to offer his beloved Isaac, his only true descendent promised by God, as holocaust (Genesis 22). Although our offering was so insignificant from God’s perspective, but just as God had accepted the two small coins from the poor widow at the synagogue (Luke 21:1-4), I truly believe God had also accepted our humble offering.
Praise the Lord! He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, he is indeed a living God. He is present during every Mass, he does not regard any details during the Mass lightly, and he often reveals his holy presence in our midst as we worship him in reverence. I am honored to be able to attend and serve our holy God in Mass.Dear God, thank you for the opportunity to offer ourselves to you. Please accept our humble offering as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to you. I pray that you bless and lead us in our daily lives, help us to glorify your holy name in everything we do. Amen.
Gift Offering During 9/29/02 MassWendar Chen Fu - 10/8/2002
Keyword: Word Became Flesh