Why did our Lord use bread and wine to give us his presence in the Eucharist? As in all the sacraments, the outward sign indicates what Christ is doing at the moment of reception of the sacrament. Bread is a sign of life. Even the hippies of old used the phrase, “Give me some bread, man” as a way of asking for that which would sustain them and their lifestyle. Bread is not something we get without work. There’s planting, growing, and reaping. In addition, the wheat has to be ground (connected to contrition). Then the ground wheat must be baked in heat (with yeast in some cases so it rises) and then we have bread. One can see that the finished product is the result of human labor. When used at the altar (unleavened bread in the West), we are saying that we offer God all that comprises our life: The sweat of our brow from labor, the joys of our life (as at harvest time) and the grinding of our selfishness in the separation of the wheat from the chaff. Yeast symbolizes many things in Christianity. The Eastern churches use yeast in the sacrament to signify the resurrection. Just as yeast causes the bread to rise, our work is offered up to the Lord. The symbolism of yeast is that our work is raised up by God as apostolic as we heed our Lord, “you are the yeast of the world.” Bread sustains us in our life’s journey; so does Christ sustain us in our way to our Father’s house. If our Lord intended, as he did, when he said, “eat my flesh,” he would have to have given us something that we could consume. The accidents of the consecrated bread allow that consuming. As Creator of all things, Christ could have chosen a precious metal, and changed its substance into his physical presence. We would be able to adore, but not consume it for that most intimate of unions between Christ and ourselves. There is thanksgiving involved. We thank God for the seed, the work, the harvest and then the bread. When bread becomes Christ, Christ gives thanks to the Father for us; hence, the name of the ceremony, “Eucharist,” which word means thanksgiving. But we do not give back to God just what he gave us, namely, wheat. We put the work of our lives into our gift. These are the words of our offering (over the bread): “Blessed (thanks) 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.” Today, the collection takes the place of the foodstuffs for the Church and the poor, since we have moved from the barter system to coinage as an indication that we are giving a portion of our lives. Does our offering to the Church and to the poor really represent a goodly portion of our livelihood, as the bread and wine were products of our life and labor in days of old? Are we aware that the bread stands for all the elements of our life— work, joys, sustenance and livelihood? Do we realize that our offering of bread becomes the presence of Christ and that those things for which the bread stands are offered to the Father by Christ along with his offering?