A Living Sacrifice

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:1-2)

Scripture Study

12:1 mercies of God: Divine mercy is a leading theme in the preceding chapters (9:15–16, 18, 23; 11:30–32). living sacrifice: Sacrificing the body means putting to death the deeds of the flesh (8:13) so that our members can become instruments of righteousness (6:13). Virtues associated with the body are probably in view (chastity, temperance, etc.). ● The body is made a sacrifice when the eye looks at nothing evil, the tongue says nothing filthy, and the hand does nothing lawless. More than this, the hand must give alms; the mouth must bless the one who curses; and the ear must listen to the reading of Scripture (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 20). spiritual worship: Or, “rational worship”, that is, service to God that is proper to man as a rational and spiritual being. There may be an implied contrast with the sacrifice of irrational animals under the Old Covenant.

12:2 Do not be conformed: Because worldly wisdom and values are often deformed (1:21, 28), Christians must allow God to transform them into the image of Christ (8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). The grace of the Spirit enables us to interpret our lives and evaluate the influences of our culture with respect to the gospel. In all things, God’s will should be the central object of our discernment, for it alone is pleasing and perfect (CCC 2520, 2826).

Scripture Reflection

In the New Testament Christians are clearly called to offer sacrifices to God—no longer sacrifices of animals, as in the Old Law, but offerings of themselves. This new kind of worship must take a spiritual form, as Jesus told the Samaritan woman, rather than a purely material form. It must be something living, holy, not merely external and formal, and pleasing to God. It is by the apostolic preaching of the Gospel that the people of God is called together and gathered so that all who belong to this people, sanctified as they are by the Holy Spirit, may offer themselves ‘a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.’

From this it follows that the whole Christian life and the struggle which it implies are imbued with deep priestly significance: “If I renounce everything I possess, if I carry the cross and follow Christ, I have offered a holocaust on the altar of God. Or if I burn up my body in the fire of charity, I have offered a holocaust on the altar of God; if I mortify my body and abstain from all concupiscence, if the world is crucified unto me and not me unto the world, then I have offered a holocaust on the altar of God and I am become a priest of my own sacrifice” (Origen).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.