By Manolito S. Jaldon Jr.,
Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation, St. Brendan Parish
As part of our message series, Mass Communication, each week we will summarize the part of the Mass preached about in the Sunday homily. This week, the spotlight is on the Preparation of the Gifts.
In my life as a young adult, going to potlucks made me nervous. I no longer had mom, who would bake cookies or go to the grocery store to pick up a cake. I worked a full-time job, and it was now my responsibility to bring something for everyone to share. I knew I couldn’t bring something generic like a liter of soda or something thoughtless like chocolate chip cookies from the clearance section nearing their expiration date. I wanted to bring a gift that everyone would appreciate. I’m glad those stressful days of potluck dish hunting may soon come to an end, as I get ready for marriage. Perhaps, my future wife will have a more passionate drive for this task than I.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has the timeless character of a celebration. Like a potluck dinner, we are called to bring various gifts to this feast. Bread and wine are brought forth from earthly roots. Wheat was once planted and cared for by skilled farmers. When it matures, it is harvested and ground. Wheat is brought to bakers who create bread in their ovens. Grapes are nurtured on the vines in the field. They are pruned and cultivated. Then years pass for the wine to come to maturity in the cellar. Through the financial gifts brought to the Mass and placed in the offertory by members of the worshiping community, the church is able to purchase these goods to be used for the celebration.
When the priest receives these gifts from the people in procession, he offers them to God in silent prayer. He blesses God for his creation, from which the abundance of such gifts come, but also acknowledges that they are “the work of human hands.” Indeed, the preparation of the gifts is a dynamic exchange between God, in whose providence such gifts are provided, and humanity, through whose labor such gifts are transformed into bread and wine.
In the final analysis, however, it is God the Father who gives the greatest gift, transforming the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the one and only true offering at the Mass is the Son of God, who offers his life to the Father for us out of obedience and love and is given to us in the Father’s generous offering of his Beloved Son to those in the gathered assembly.
When we bring our gifts to the Altar, we put our faith in the transforming power of God, his power to transform bread and wine into the Eucharist and to transform our lives and hearts, so that we can go into the world as deliberate disciples, becoming bread for others.
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