Work of Human Hands
“Blessed are you, Lord God…for through your goodness we have received this bread, wine we offer you… fruit of the vine and work of humans [they] will become for us our spiritual food and drink.”
The words I quoted above are used by the priest as he prepares the gifts of bread and wine. We do not hear them often because we sing as the gifts of bread and wine are prepared and the priest prays these words inaudibly.
Considered a “secondary part of the mass,” the preparation of gifts is of high significance. The words mentioned above summarize everything. The gifts that we bring are the “work of human hands.” They symbolize the gifts of God to His people and also of human labor. We place our labors on the altar – our work, united with God in His work. We come forward to offer our monetary gifts, again a symbol of our labor. It is an act of thanksgiving, our gratitude to our God who in the first place is the ONE who, because of His love for us, labored for all that we have. The bread and wine we offer are gifts to God. These are returned to us as gifts, His Son’s Body and Blood. What an awesome God!
On Monday, our nation celebrates Labor Day. It is a day to recognize the many contributions laborers have made to our nations’ strength, prosperity, and well-being. A former president’s Labor Day proclamation declared, “On Labor Day, we are reminded that jobs are about more than a paycheck. They afford us the ability to take care of our family, friends, and neighbors; to save for that well-deserved retirement; to give back to our communities and the country we would do anything for. Jobs allow us to dream, to look toward the future, and to encourage our children to do the same.”
St. Pope John Paul II in his teaching on labor wrote the following: “In our Catholic tradition, work is more than a way to make a living. It is not a burden, but a blessing. Work is an expression of our dignity and a contribution to the common good. In spiritual terms, work is a way to participate in God’s continuing work of creation.”
This weekend, join me in giving thanks and praying for all laborers. Together let us pray the beautiful prayer found in the Roman Missal for the sanctification of human labor:
O God, Creator of all things,
Who have commanded the human race
To bear the burden of labor,
grant that the work we are beginning
May bring progress in this life.
And, by your favor,
Advance the spread of the Kingdom of Christ.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
On behalf of Fr. John and the rest of the parish and school staff, I wish all of you a very happy and safe Labor Day!