Saint Francis de Sales: a Swiss bishop who tried to re-establish the Catholic faith in Geneva which had apostatised to Protestantism. He was an avid letter writer and these reveal him as a man who was very much in touch with the real world. He taught against being pretentious and advised people to pray, work and serve God in whatever situation they found themselves. Today we thank God for the life of Saint Francis de Sales who is a great patron for ordinary people who seek to deepen their spiritual life.
The giving of gifts has always been part of our human experience. A gift is meant to express a feeling which words alone cannot convey. A gift need not be something practical, something that can be used, because it’s meant to be symbolic. For example, flowers are a gift not at all practical but they convey affection and love for another person.
In the Mass, we are called upon to express our love for God through the giving of a gift. And we don’t offer God a gift of gold or silver. Nor do we offer Him mere bread and wine. Rather we offer Him the Body and Blood of Christ, the most beautiful and the most precious gift possible. For a gift to be meaningful there must be something behind it. For example, if a husband gives his wife a gift on their wedding anniversary, no matter how costly the gift, it may mean little or nothing. If she rarely sees her husband at home, if he seems to have little time for her, if they are always bickering and quarrelling, then the gift is empty, hollow, and even hypocritical.
Here at Mass our gift of Christ to the Father has real meaning in the measure that we try to have time for God, that we think about him and pray to him during the day, and that we are faithful and obedient to him. We endeavour to become like the Gift we give, in imitation of Our Lord himself who said, “I have come to do your will.” And when the Mass is over we leave, we go forth, in order to live the Mass in union with Christ and one another.