Happy Christmas to You and God’s Blessing for the Year 2014
Presentation of the Gifts: For the ancient Israelites, bread was the most basic type of food, seen as necessary to sustain life. The Bible even depicts bread as similar to a staff (the staff of bread), which shows how bread was seen as a support for human life. To part with one’s bread would have been a personal sacrifice, expressing the individual’s giving of himself to God. Similarly, wine was often consume with bread and was served at feasts and for guests. Yet, like bread, wine was offered up in Israel’s sacrifice. It was one of the first fruits presented to the Temple as a tithe and it was poured out as a drink offering in Israel’s thanksgiving and expiatory sacrifices. In the bread and wine, we offer back to God the gifts of creation and the result of our labors – or as the prayer in the Mass call them, “fruit of the earth and work of our human hands.” The rite symbolizes our giving of our entire lives to God in the offering of bread and wine.
The practice of giving money (instead of oil, and other sundry gifts) can be seen in the same light. Putting money in the basket is not simply a contribution to some good cause. It, too, expresses the giving of our lives to God. Our money embodies hours of our lives and hard work, which we now offer to God during Mass in the presentation of the Gifts.