'Fruit of the earth and work of human hands'

By Canon Philip Gillespie

On the 26th Sunday of the year, 27 September, we keep a day of particular thanksgiving for the harvest and for the fruits of human work. Unless we live very close to the farming or fishing communities, then we can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that all our food comes pre-packaged from one of the supermarkets – whereas in reality all of these things which we take so much for granted have to be hard won and worked for, before they end up on our plates.

At every Mass we give thanks for the bread and wine which are "fruit of the earth and the work of human hands" – so in a way this harvest thanksgiving is like an extended refection on the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass. We never take things for granted, but give great thanks for those whose skill, under God, provides us with what we need for our life, health and growth.

On the Isle of Man, as I am sure in many places, there will be harvest festivals today and in the weeks to come. Moreover, week by week parishioners provide the local Salvation Army with tins of food, pasta and rice, and other non-perishable goods that can be distributed to those families and individuals who perhaps need a little help in making ends meet in the testing economic climate.

In many of our towns this is now done through the work of The Food Bank; this too is a very practical way in which we express not only gratitude but also that sense of genuine care and concern for others whom we may never meet but whom we acknowledge as children of the one Father "who makes his Sun to shine on us all".

September is also the month in which we keep the Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, who would say a resounding amen to that last sentiment. So it is also a good time of the year to say thank you to all members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) – and pray that others will be encouraged to join in your prayer and work.