True worship, like true love, is sacrificial. This is why King David said, “I will not offer a sacrifice that costs me nothing.” (2Sam 24:24) The sacrifice of Christ is the ultimate example. Since Christ sacrificed for us and said, “It is finished,” then we no longer need to offer sacrifice to God, right? Wrong.
The apostle Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) Why would God still want sacrifice if Jesus already did more than we could ever do? Because true worship, like love, is sacrificial. In order to truly love and worship God, we must still offer sacrifice. To do so is “reasonable.”
The sacrifice of Christ did not eliminate our need to sacrifice. It did, however, provide us with the means for offering a pure sacrifice. As Hebrews tells us, the sacrificing of bulls and goats could never take away sin, but the sacrifice of Jesus does take away sin. The presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices alone can never take away sin, but we can unite ourselves to the pure sacrifice of Jesus which does take away sin. “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)
Jesus offered himself “once for all” 2000 years ago, but his sacrifice is an eternal one. Christ eternally intercedes for us and presents his offering before the Father. We, however, are not yet in eternity. Christ’s sacrifice must be applied to us now. We must offer sacrifice now. This is the purpose of the Catholic Mass where the eternal offering of Christ is made present to us. We get to join our sacrifices to his one, pure sacrifice. We offer our joys, our sorrows, our struggles, our successes, our failures, our prayers, our hymns, our lives, our everything along with the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:28) Without Christ, we have nothing to offer as a worthy sacrifice to God. In Christ, however, everything we have can be offered up to God. God rewarded Christ for his sacrifice, and God rewards us when we “take up our cross” and join Christ’s sacrifice. This is why even our suffering can be a redemptive expression of our love and worship to God. This is why Catholics often say “offer it up” about some pain or struggle. Our suffering isn’t pointless.
The gift of the Mass means that we can offer the sacrifice of Jesus to God along with our own lives in a pure, effectual manner. We don’t “kill Jesus” again or “repeat” his once for all sacrifice. We unite ourselves with the pure sacrifice that Jesus eternally presents to his Father. That’s why it has to be his body and his blood that we offer, not just our own. It really is true love and true worship!