From Morning prayer today:
For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.
In your goodness, show favor to Zion:
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
holocausts offered on your altar.
- Psalm 51
We are made to worship God. It seems that the rejection of burnt offerings here is that the sacred author would be lying, saying one thing with the sacrifice and saying another thing in their manor of life. But even though the author is the one at fault (and therefore we who pray the Psalms acknowledge our own faults and sins against God), we cannot rebuild Jerusalem.
We cannot rebuild Jerusalem.
No amount of self-help or self-improvement is enough to make God "pleased with lawful sacrifice." As important as they may be for other aspects of our life and our well-being, they are not the sacrifice of self that God asks of us.
We are created in the Image and Likeness of God. We find our true selves only in Christ, particularly in the Cross, as many Saints have told us.
He has given himself to us in humility, in a general and universal way, but He asks us to give ourselves to Him in a reciprocal humility, that He might give Himself to us in a particular and individual gift, one that is not forced upon us.
Our gentle God calls us once again to take up our cross, not out of some desire to punish us, but in His desire for us to be united with Him.
To die with Him that we may Rise with him, and offer perfect sacrifice in the New Jerusalem.