2f. THE PRECIOUS GIFTS
In ancient times, before Christ, the Jews offered as sacrifices “the first-fruits” at the sacrificial altars which they had built for God’s worship. They sacrificed the first and the best born sheep, calves and crops of the earth. We Christians following Christ’s commandment, offer bread and wine. These are given by God but man’s cooperation is essential. The basis for the bread is the wheat but man plants, harvests, makes flour and bakes it. The same is true for the wine as grapes must be gathered and then the juice of them will become wine.
God, who gives us the bread and wine, commands us to offer them as gifts. He is the provider and law-giver and is ready instead of these to give us his spiritual, infinitely superior gifts. He promised to the rich man, whom he invited to sell his possessions and give his money to the poor, that he would give him spiritual riches, the kingdom of Heaven. The rich man would have given gravel and would have received diamonds. To the Apostles, whom he called to leave their jobs, he promised that instead of fishing for fish in the lake, they would become fishers of men. In the Divine Liturgy in order to receive the real, the everlasting, the living, the heavenly bread, which is Christ Himself, we offer earthly bread.
The bread and wine which are on the holy prothesis are not yet sanctified, they have not yet changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. They are going to be transferred during the Great Entrance to the holy altar where the great miracle will take place.
For our salvation, our own collaboration is also required. God wants us to be saved and offers everything for our salvation. Provided we also desire it and make every effort towards it. This is the least we can do.