“Sacrifice gives you no pleasure, burnt offering you do not desire.
Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, a broken, contrite heart you never scorn.”
Two lines from Psalm 51 (16-17) which we will be hearing rather frequently during Lent. In poetic words they indicate what lies at the heart, if you’ll pardon the pun, of our Lenten sacrifice. Not outward signs of piety and sacrifice, but our offering of our broken, contrite hearts. In other words, ourselves.
This goes well with the reading from the Gospel of Matthew (6:1-6,16-18) that we heard on Ash Wednesday. Here too, Jesus tells us not to make a show of your piety: give alms quietly, pray in the privacy of your room, fast with a cheerful face. By actively preventing showing how well we give alms, pray and fast, we are looking inward, confronting ourselves, our “broken, contrite hearts”.
We are what we are. Imperfect people, with all our good or bad intentions, our good or bad tendencies, sins and virtues. And that, however strange it may seem to us, is the offering that God will accept. We give ourselves to Him, willingly, in the knowledge that we are imperfect, and with the desire to change, to better ourselves. And for that, we need the Lord’s help.
Give yourself to God in Lent, so that we may rise with Christ at Easter.