First Reading: Sirach 35:1-12
He who keeps the law makes many offerings; he who heeds the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. He who returns a kindness offers fine flour, and he who gives alms sacrifices a thank offering. To keep from wickedness is pleasing to the Lord, and to forsake unrighteousness is atonement. Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed, for all these things are to be done because of the commandment. The offering of a righteous man anoints the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High. The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten. Glorify the Lord generously, and do not stint the first fruits of your hands. 9With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness. Give to the Most High as he has given, and as generously as your hand has found. For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold. Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 50:5-8, 14, 23
"Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!" The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! "Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. I do not reprove you for your sacrifices; your burnt offerings are continually before me. Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me; to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation of God!"
Gospel: Mark 10:28-31
Peter began to say to him, "Lo, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first."
Let's stop for a minute, sisters. Look around you and think about your day so far. What are you doing, thinking, worrying about, planning, distracted by as you read this devotion?
Maybe you're reading this first thing in the morning while intercepting breakfasts requests from your kids. Maybe you're trying not to spill your coffee on your phone as you read while you rush out the door for work. Maybe you're taking a break from working on your big presentation to reconnect with the Lord and chill out for a minute. Maybe you're seeking refuge from a clingy toddler or a painful circumstance. Maybe you're reading this while in the carpool line. Maybe you're celebrating the end of a long day by nursing a glass of wine and diving into this devotion. Maybe you're just scrolling through this devotion just so you can delete the email because the amount of emails in your inbox is enough to make you cry.
You work hard, sister. And I'd venture to guess that much of your work goes unnoticed, and maybe even unappreciated. As women, we love hard and we love well. And when we love, we work. We serve. We put our heads down, our hand to the plow, and work hard to love on the people who matter to us. Most of the time, we do so in quiet, hidden ways. An anonymous encouraging note to a coworker going through a loss. A wiped butt of a screaming baby. A quiet visit to the local nursing home. We were made to love fearlessly and passionately, and while we may feel like no one notices, the book of Sirach proves otherwise.
We see from the First Reading that our sacrifices will not be forgotten by God. Furthermore, when we bring our daily sacrifices to the altar in the Mass, the altar is made even sweeter. We make a more welcoming seat for the King of Kings who comes to us on that altar in the Eucharist.
Sister, the little ways you love and sacrifice do not go unnoticed by the One who inspires these actions in you. He sees you. You are pleasing to His Heart when you serve even in the most subtle and humble ways. He knows all that you have left behind to follow Him. He sees the smile you give those around you even when you've reached your breaking point.
He knows. He sees. He hears. And it makes His Heart sing and His altar fragrant with devotion. And you will be reward a hundred fold.
Olivia Spears is a middle school religion teacher turned SAHM who is married to her high school best friend. You can find out more about her here.