Everyone knows the story of Cain's offering of grain and the harvest of the field.
And we remember, as well, how Abel brought forth the first-born of his flock as an offering to God.
Abel's offering was an acceptable offering. But God did not look favorably upon Cain's offering.
I've always felt sorry for Cain. It cannot be an easy thing to feel rejected by God. But I don't see that as the point of the story any more. It wasn't about rejection. It was about perfection.
In the Mass, we pray, May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good and the good of all his Church.
Today, something really struck me about the Genesis passage. Cain offered gifts of the field. The faithful do this in the Mass. But that's not the end of it. It does not remain bread and wine. God changes it. And then He changes everything.
Abel offered the first-born of his flock. A perfect lamb. A living sacrifice.
And God was pleased.
In Abel's offering, God saw something more. God could see it all - past, present, and future. Sin and Savior. Wrong made right. The horror of the Fall and the triumph of the Redeemer. When He saw Abel's lamb, He saw the Lamb that was slain. The Lamb that would be slain. The Lamb that is slain. A once-for-all-time, most-perfect Sacrifice.
Lord, accept our sacrifice. Our gifts of the field. Change them.
Change our gifts. Make them become the living One, the first-born One. The Lamb of God. The perfect sacrifice, made present for all time in the Mass. Calvary-come-to-us. Change the gift, and change our hearts through the Gift.
Do not reject me, Oh Lord. Look kindly on our offering. And look with favor on your Church. And help all Christians to understand that the offering must change. It must be changed. It is the difference between offering Cain's gift.
And that of Abel.
Your Church, like Abel, offering a gift that has been perfected. No longer fruit of the field. Now, the perfect fruit of God. Change the bread and wine. That it may become--
Our Eucharistic Lord.