We easily see the image and inscription on the coin but not so readily the image and inscription that is placed upon our bodies and souls. Our catechism informs us that we are all made to the image and likeness of God. Based upon this alone we must see the necessity of returning ourselves to God. Added to this are the graces that we received in Baptism and the other sacraments. Our souls have been washed and purified and the indelible image of God has been emblazoned upon them.
We are temples of the Holy Ghost and marked with the image of God. It cannot become any clearer that it is we ourselves that belong to God and we must return ourselves to Him.
The tithing of money, flocks, grain, herbs, etc. is only a substitution for the gift of ourselves that God demands from us. God commanded an offering of the first fruits of our labors from the beginning. The tithe or ten percent takes the place of ourselves; that is why the offering must be of the first fruits, it must be the best that we have to offer.
When the Israelites left their bondage in Egypt, we see among the many plagues, one that struck the first born male that opened the womb. The Israelites learned that the first fruits of their labors and their offspring belong to God. Rather than demanding the first male from every family, God accepted a dedicated family to take the place of all the others; the tribe of Levi. God accepted this family of priests as an offering for everyone else.
Today we do not have a hereditary priesthood, but rather a more perfect one where God calls men to willingly offer themselves for His honor and glory and for the benefit of their fellow men. Added to this is the sacrifice of all the religious, both men and women. These chosen souls offer themselves on behalf of all men. They pray the psalms every day, offering the prayers that the world owes to God. These are the ones that give themselves completely over to the original plan of God – offering themselves and all that they have to Him. They bear within and without their bodies and souls the image of God; and their entire life is spent in rendering themselves to God.
The priests and religious also have become the offering for the rest of the world. They represent the tithe of the rest of men – the first and best fruits that we have to offer. It is a sad state of affairs that we find ourselves in today. There are very few true priests and religious and so likewise the offering to God is much less than the original plan of offering God the first fruits or the tithe of ten percent.
We owe this debt to God and unless this debt is paid we will find that we are unacceptable to Him. Our offerings (if we even make an offering) are not the best that we have. We have taken the best for ourselves and the world and will give whatever is left over to God. How often do we hear that religious have wasted their talents in the convent or cloister when they could have done so much in the world? The real question we should be wondering about is, how so many can waste their talents in the world when they could have done so much for God and man in the convent or cloister.
Too many religious and priests have forgotten that their first duty is to God and their offering is first to Him. They rather think of serving their fellow men and have become great “humanitarians” rather than holy and acceptable offerings to God on behalf of their fellow men.
Let us pray for true vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Let us pray that those who have been called will make themselves holy, pleasing, and acceptable to God. Let us offer these priests and religious both our material and spiritual support because they have freely chosen to offer themselves on our behalf to God.
Let us encourage the best of our young to give themselves to God, rather than to the world. Only in this way will our offerings be acceptable.
We still must completely belong to God but the priests and religious offer us an opportunity to pay a tithe of what we have. This tithe on our behalf is acceptable to God as we pray for and support them and they cooperate and fulfill their obligations.