At the Offertory of the Mass there are two prayers with similar phrasing. Before placing the bread on the altar, the priest says a prayer that ends with these words, “…fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become the bread of life.” Likewise, before placing the chalice of wine on the altar the priest says, “…fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.”
When I hear these prayers, I usually focus on the words, “work of human hands.” I imagine the skill of those who took part in making the bread and the wine. Who are they? They are farmers. They are bakers. They are vintners. They are those who make whatever is used to produce the wheat and grapes, the bread and the wine. I think about and pray for the many hands that in some way produced what will become the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I don’t know them, but they are persons like I am. Perhaps they had no idea where their product would end up. Maybe they would be honored knowing their handiwork would be used to worship Almighty God. Perhaps not.
It’s good for me to take the time to remember the people who has a hand in making what I use in my daily life. Who crafted the utensils I use to eat my meals? How many hands worked to make the car I drive? What seamstress made the coat that keeps me warm? I could go on and on.
Currently my husband and I are having a new house built. Every evening I pray for those subcontractors who are doing the construction. I pray first for their safety. Then I pray that they are justly compensated for what they do. Once in awhile I get to meet some of the workers. I learn their names. When the project is complete and we take possession of the new place, I will think with gratitude of those who helped to create our future home. I will continue pray for their welfare.
Isn’t humbling to recall our interdependence on others and our complete dependence on God?
May God be praised!