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Where to find a sacrifice for God

A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a crushed and humbled heart, O God, you do not spurn (Ps 50[51], 19). You have what you may offer him. Dont look around at your flock; dont prepare your ships; dont sail to the farthest provinces to bring back spices. Look in your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart has to be crushed. Why fear that it will die if crushed? There you have it: Create a clean heart in me, O God (Ps 50[51]: 12). Let the unclean heart be crushed, then, so that a clean heart may be created. (Augustine, Sermon 19, 3; PL 38, 134)

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"You have what you may offer him."Amen to that.

I remember reading many years ago a psychologist who made a great deal of what she saw as a universal human tendency to create a comforting self-image, an "ideal self" one could live with without qualms or regrets or anxieties. Of course, to live in blindness to one's own faults is spiritually as well as psychologically dangerous. Perhaps what we have here is a call to be more ruthlessly honest with ourselves, like David, after his eyes were opened by Nathan.

I like to imagine God smiling wanly when he receives sacrifices from the heart, sort of like when Dad gets another striped tie for Father's Day. Inside, though, he's thinking, "Heart, eh? Maybe next time look in the stockyard."

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About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.