What you put in the collection basket says a lot about you and where you are at in your journey.
Some of us put in our 10 percent tithing without a second thought.
Some of us put in the few “extra” dollars we may have.
Some of us struggle with the need to “give” to the already “rich” church and so put in very little.
I remember once when one of my sons was quite young and had – unbeknownst to me – picked up all his change from his room and put it in the collection basket as it passed. I think it was about nineteen cents.
But very few of us realize that when that basket passes, it is an incredible opportunity to give anything and everything to God.
Sure, it is about money and tithing; but money is only the beginning. That collection basket is a chance to empty yourself so that your gifts may be joined to those of Christ’s at the altar and used for God’s kingdom. They will be joined in the consecration and if offered with no strings attached can be appropriately dispensed by God, who sees all.
Remember that Mass transcends time and space and you are joining all the Masses said, at all moments in time, and that your gifts become priceless in the ways they can be given to others if you so freely give them yourself.
The next time the collection basket passes, along with your spare change or your envelope, make a point to put in your joy. God will use it to bless someone else who may need a bit of joy.
The next time the collection basket passes, along with your spare change or your envelope, make a point to put in your praise and awe of the mighty God we serve. God will use it to bless someone who may be struggling with their faith and in need of your beautiful gift of praise and awe.
The next time the collection basket passes, along with your spare change or your envelope, make a point to put in your sorrow, grief or despair. God will divide up those burdens among your fellow worshippers – across time and space – who are asking with a heart full of love to lighten someone else’s burden. Trust that someone’s heart is open to your needs and your load will be lightened or you will be given courage and strength to carry it. In other words, there is no way you can put your sorrow or your grief or your despair into the basket and have it taken to the altar and it not be changed!
We simply don’t know the ways our offerings may be used; but we can be assured that they will be used in anointed ways. The point is to give everything over at that moment in Mass and trust in God.
Does God need this from us? Of course not!
Does God desire this from us? Of course He does! Just as He freely gave His Son, we, too, can give freely of ourselves gifts that can be blessed at the altar; gifts that can be joined at the foot of the Cross and used in blessed, anointed or even redemptive ways (reflect on redemptive suffering, for instance).
Consider some of the words and phrases said at Mass during the consecration and see your gifts collected in the baskets now placed at the altar being transformed with these words:
Through him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts we offer you in sacrifice…
Father, accept this offering from your whole family…
Bless and approve our offering: make it acceptable to you…
Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel…
Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven…
Let your spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy…
There is so much that we can freely give to God and an ideal time to do this is during Mass – when that collection basket gets handed to each of us. We can fill it with love and kindness and hope and pain and regret. We can ask our guardian angels to accompany it to the altar. We can allow ourselves to be transformed by what we can give at the altar as much as we can be transformed by what we take from the altar. God allows us, in so many ways, to participate in His goodness. Filling the collection basket to the brim is just one incredible way in which we work with God for His kingdom!
So the next time the basket makes its way to you, remember: Nothing is too big or too small to be taken to the altar – it only needs to be given wholly so that it can become holy.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.