Friday in the Third Week of Lent: Eucharist and Human Labor

Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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Reflect

What do you do? What do you do for a living? We ask these questions to know something about someone, to know who a person is. Our identity and value are bound together in many ways by our work—or by our lack of work. Are we productive? Life is often assessed on how productive someone may or may not be. For those of us who celebrate the Holy Eucharist, life is what we receive as a share in God’s triune life. The work of the Eucharist is what God does to bread and wine and to us. The work of Christ is the offering of his life of communion to us. God is what God does and vice versa. For the first centuries of Christian theology, this work of God was called the “economic trinity.”

When we celebrate Holy Eucharist, we do so in a place prepared by human hands, with bread and wine made through the efforts of human labor. So next time someone asks you what do you do for a living, you can say, “I celebrate the Eucharist; I do the work of communion.”

In God’s economy, human labor is ordered toward the flourishing of life, for the realization of the abundant life for all of God’s creation. Furthermore, when our work is offered to God, toward the life God envisions for us, God is working in us, “producing” holiness of life. We do not do the same work, but we are called to offer this work for the giving and receiving of life, the communion of work. In this way, God’s work of communion is wrought in us, drawing us not only into God’s abundant life but also drawing us closer to each other, so close that our fellow workers can show us the face of Christ.

Pray

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious  favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our  works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify  your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting  life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, p. 832)

Author

Ralph McMichael is a priest in the Diocese of Springfield.