It’s traditional in Lent to talk about sacrifices, to talk about what we bring to the Lord.  So today I’d like to talk about Eucharist. On the weekend at least, we have a little procession from the back of the church to the front, and we carry up gold vessels with hosts in them. However, there’s nothing special about these hosts. They aren’t blessed, they aren’t Jesus, they aren’t anything other than bread. If I dropped one, no big deal, I can literally throw it in the trash.

Yet they are already representing something more. As volunteers bring them forward to the altar, this bread represents us offering our own ordinary lives to the Lord. Our hopes and fears and difficulties, all the people we love and care about. Even our plans for the future. We offer them to the Lord, and ask him to do something amazing with them.

As they arrive at the altar, the priest lifts them up asking God to make these gifts holy. By ‘gifts’ he means the ordinary bread, but also the intentions of everyone who is gathered. Anything that we are giving to God is lifted up. Once it’s ready, the priest speaks the words of institution and the bells are rung, marking the highlight of consecration for Catholics. We believe that in this mass, what began as ordinary bread is now Christ, physically present in our midst.

This is a huuuuge jump, God coming from heaven all the way to this altar, but he’s not done yet. The most amazing transformation is still to come. Because then we have the opportunity to take, to receive him physically. We ask him to come into our own hearts and lives, to be involved in our plans and give strength to our hopes and consolation in our fears. And as we become connected with Christ in this unique way, we can start carrying out his work. As we carry him out of this church to others, we have a chance to be his hands and feet. Bread can’t do much on its own. But put yourself at Christ’s service and we can change the world.

Lastly, if you have ever done a jigsaw puzzle you know how frustrating it can be to lose a piece. When the priest breaks up the host, I have always felt it’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. Unlike a jigsaw puzzle of course, every piece is still Jesus no matter how small. Yet after we all receive, the only way to “put the puzzle back together” is for you and I to come back together as the body of Christ. It takes all of St Max together to carry out the work of Christ.

Peace ~ Fr. Dan