Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Exchange of Gifts

Ciborium

All the way through the liturgy we get references to a ‘holy exchange of gifts’. God give us things and we give them back to Him. Note that it always goes in that direction. From Him to us, and then back to Him again.

This is brought out in the new translation of the offertory prayers…

For through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you…
For through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you…

You see the exchange of gifts? We have received and so we give back. But as you can see that it not quite right. For we do not receive bread and wine. We receive wheat and grapes, and have the ability to take them and change them into bread and wine. As the offertory prayers say, through the ‘work of human hands’.

The exchange of gifts is not just a simple exchange, for what God gives us is the ability to do things. He gives us the skills and the opportunities and we in turn have to good. We have to take what He offers us and use it for His glory, and to the glory of honour of God. This may sound all very evangelical, but in reality it means not wasting the talents we have. If you can do something (and that something is not morally objectionable) then we should do it. And not only that, but we should do it for our good, the good of our friends and family and the good of the whole world. It is not enough that we receive wheat and grapes, we must take them and turn them, through our own deliberate action, into bread and wine, which then becomes a fitting offering to God.

The co-operation with God is at the heart of our lives and our relationship with God. We must work out our own salvation by our good deeds and actions, by our good use of the opportunities which God gives us. We cannot just think “Oh God loves me, everything is going to be alright” any more than a child can think “I’m a sweet little child I don’t have to learn at school, or at home, someone will look after me” because life is much greater than that. And we are instructed to be more responsible than that. In this we are like God, for we can take things and become co-creators with Him.

The Blessed Sacrament
Everything is His and everything comes from Him, but He demands our willing actions. We must give back to Him, the completed gifts which He offers to us.

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