Pastor’s Page – Stewardship Part 2

I’ve always been impressed with these opening words of the second half of the Mass, called the Liturgy of the Eucharist:

“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received
the bread we offer you:
fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
it will become for us the bread of life.”

They may not sound familiar. In Sunday Masses, these words of the priest are usually covered by the offertory hymn. But in weekday Mass, without music, daily communicants regularly hear them (there are even responses for the assembly). Why not look up the words in the missalette and meditate on them during the Eucharistic prayer? The words describe the change which takes place in the Eucharist in three stages:

“Fruit of the earth” (wheat) –> “Bread” –> “Bread of life” (the Body of Christ)

Through nature, God gives us wheat. Through the “work of human hands,” we use it to make bread, which nourishes the body. Through stewardship, we return a portion of the work of our hands to God – our tithe, represented by the bread brought to the altar by parishioners in the offertory procession. Through God’s blessing, the bread is consecrated and becomes the Body of Christ, which nourishes the soul.

God’s sovereignty is affirmed because the change begins and ends with God. He has the first and last word (wheat and the Body of Christ, respectively). But human responsibility is also affirmed because we effect the first change (from wheat to bread) and therefore have something of our own to offer back to God.

Stewardship is the common biblical name for this relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. God is the origin and master of all things, but he has made us stewards of the physical Creation.