Are we prepared to sacrifice what we are for what our God wants us to be and to become? Until we make this sacrifice, we will never pray but at a very superficial level. Given five minutes to live, what am I clutching now that I know for sure I would have to dump in order to embrace the Lord completely and freely at the moment of entry into eternal life? To make this sacrifice is irksome, often painful. It costs!
The big temptation is forever to postpone the making of that sacrifice. “I’ll come to the Lord fulfilling His requests when this spouse of mine dies – when these kids get out of the house – when this pastor gets changed – when the Bishop retires.” “I’ll come to the Lord when they are taking me in the ambulance to the nearest hospital emergency!” – hoping that the sin will desert us before we desert the sin.
That may be presumptuous to plan to come to the Lord just then; and besides, you may not have the consciousness to make that choice at the moment when your only options are to breathe or not to breathe. Now when your options are many, and you choose the Lord and His Holy Will, that is the sign of a generous heart. And our God will never be outdone in generosity!
The in fallible test of our love for God and for our fellow man is our spirit of sacrifice. What am I willing to pay to prove my love? We do not prove our love by intensity of feeling. Feelings are too tricky and unpredictable and unstable to rely upon. Sacrifice is the willingness in the will to give, to give up; it is the decision to share. Sacrifice may involve pain initially; but perfect love can make sacrifice a joy. We give in proportion as we love. When our sacrifice is perfect, our love is complete.
Saints, like St. Francis and St. Clare, perfected their spirit of sacrifice. They were absolutely convinced that God loves them. That’s why there was no end to the generosity they were capable of; nothing was too much for them. They were always “yes” to God. They will forever be our models of the right response to the Lord’s overtures. This is the secret of their happiness. With St. Paul they keep telling us: “Rejoice, again I say rejoice! Let everyone know how unselfish you are!”
No one can teach us better than the Lord Himself how to sacrifice. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son.” “Greater love than this no one has than that he lay down his life for his friends.” And in the Holy Eucharist, not even Almighty God Himself could have given us more. Not even God! The crib, the Cross, the altar tell us why He came into this world; to die and to rise for each one of us… to make us holy (full of love). That is what sacrifice really means.