Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sacrifice of Praise?

Last Friday, at weekday Mass, Psalm 116 was used. In that Psalm, verse 17 goes as such:
I will offer a sacrifice of praise
and call on the name of the LORD.
 "Sacrifice of praise"? What the heck is that supposed to mean?

It seems contradictory to me. We praise God when we remember all of the blessings He has given us. So, what does sacrifice have to do with that? When I think sacrifice, I think of Lent. What does this mean?

That is when going to the footnotes is helpful. When I look at this verse in my Bible, it references me back to Leviticus 7:12. It says:
 If someone offers it for thanksgiving, that person shall offer it with unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes made of bran flour mixed with oil and well kneaded.
The whole passage is giving instructions on how to do a sacrifice in thanksgiving. It sounds remarkably like the Eucharist mainly because it involves unleavened bread.

Wait a sec, Eucharist? Do you know what that word means? Eucharist is Greek for "thanksgiving." We use that word mainly because in the Last Supper narratives, it says that Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread. So, in a sense, the Eucharist is a "sacrifice of praise."

And there that troublesome phrase appears again in Hebrews 13:15. In context:
The bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come. Through him [then] let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. -Hebrews 13:11-16
Our entire lives are to be a sacrifice of praise because Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for us. We are supposed to live moral lives and care for the least of us. That is what a "sacrifice of praise" means.

What about times when a "sacrifice of praise" is hard to do? Here is a good article I found while researching this post that has helpful advice for those who find it difficult to offer one.

Here is a good Gospel song on the topic:

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