The pure oblation of the Church


(Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr)
An excerpt from a Against Heresies (Book 4)

ORDINARY TIME 2: SATURDAY

The oblation of the Church, which the Lord taught was to be offered throughout the whole world, has been regarded by God as a pure sacrifice, and is acceptable to him. Not that he needs sacrifice from us, but the one who makes the offering himself receives glory in his offering, provided that his gift is accepted. Through a gift both honor and love are shown to a king.

The Lord wants us to make our offering in all sincerity and freedom from sin. He declared this when he said: When, therefore, you offer your gift at the altar and remember that your brothers holds something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and first go and be reconciled with your brother; and then come back and offer your gift.

We must offer God the first fruits of his creation, as Moses said: You will not come empty-handed into the presence of the Lord your God. In showing gratitude to God for his gifts man is to be accounted pleasing to God, and so receive the honor that comes from God.

It is not oblations as such that have met with disapproval. There were oblations of old; there are oblations now. There were sacrifices among the people of Israel; there are sacrifices in the Church. Only the kind of oblation has been changed: now it is offered by freemen, not by slaves. There is one and the same Lord, but the character of an oblation made by slaves is distinctive, so too that of an oblation made by sons: their oblations bear the mark of freedom.

With God there is nothing without purpose, nothing without its meaning and reason. Thus the people of Israel used to dedicate tithes of their possessions. But those who have been given freedom devote what they possess to the Lord’s use. They give it all to him, not simply what is of lesser value, cheerfully and freely because they hope for greater things, like the poor widow who put into God’s treasury her whole livelihood.

We must make oblation to God, and in all things be found pleasing to God the Creator, in sound teaching, in sincere faith, in firm hope, in ardent love, as we offer the first fruits of the creatures that are his. The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator when it makes its offering to him from his creation, with thanksgiving.

We offer him what is his, and so we proclaim communion and unity and profess our belief in the resurrection of flesh and spirit. Just as bread from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, made up of two elements, one earthly and one heavenly, so also our bodies, in receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, for they have the hope of resurrection.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen